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Mastercard rolls out selfie payments in UK

Financial services provider Mastercard announces its cardholders in the UK will be able to use a selfie as authentication to pay for goods

Mastercard has rolled out “Selfie Pay” to its UK cardholders, allowing customers to authenticate themselves using facial recognition.

UK banks will be able to roll out the technology allowing consumers to pay on their smartphones by selfie or fingerprint through Mastercard’s Identity Check Mobile application.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security for Mastercard, said: “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. Shopping in person has been revolutionised thanks to advances such as contactless cards, mobile payments and wearables, and we are making Identity Check Mobile a reality for online shopping in Europe – and soon, the world.”

The launch has been decided after trials in the Netherlands, the US and Canada identified that European consumers prefer to use biometric authentications as opposed to passwords.

More than 90% of those who have used the application stated the Identity Check application was more convenient than passwords, and 73% thought the use of biometric authentication would reduce fraud.

Research by Visa also found that consumers are comfortable with biometric authentication, with two-thirds of European shoppers claiming they think biometric ID is secure, although many preferred the use of fingerprint recognition than other forms of biometrics.

Mastercard’s biometric authentication technology is now available in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden, and will be rolled out worldwide in stages throughout 2017.

When using the web – either on a PC, laptop or mobile device – users will be sent a pop-up message to their smartphone which will allow them to use the Mastercard Identity Check Mobile application to identify themselves and complete the transaction.

In January 2018, the European Commission (EC) hopes to launch PSD2, a revised directive on payments designed to make it easier to pay across an EU-wide single market, which will likely require two-factor authentication for online payments to be adopted across Europe.

Mastercard hopes that as the application allows users to identify themselves using both selfie and fingerprint authentication, the technology will be helpful to European consumers once these laws are in place.

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Biometric authentication has become a growing theme in the payments landscape in recent years, with Apple introducing Apple Pay to allow its smartphone users to pay through its Touch ID feature using fingerprint authentication, and Barclays launching finger vein readers to eliminate PINs for its business customers.

According to Mastercard, biometric means of authentication are more secure as passwords can be hacked, stolen or forgotten.

Users will also be required to blink during the selfie authentication process to prove it is them in front of the camera, and not a picture of them held by someone else.

Selfie technology is already in use for authentication in the UK, with bank HSBC rolling out facial recognition technology to identify customers through its mobile banking application in early 2016.

The technology should also reduce poor customer experiences on websites, as shoppers will not be re-directed to banking authentication screens where they may forget their passwords and abandon their basket.

Mastercard has been working to improve digital payments for customers and retailers alike over the past few years, through activities such as partnering with Tesco Bank to offer digital mobile payments for Tesco Bank customers.

It has also invested in its open application programming interfaces (API) platform to encourage software developers to integrate its payment functionality into their applications

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