The selfie. When no one is around to take your picture, you extend your arm and snap a photo of yourself — whether at a party, on vacation or waiting in line at the movie theater.
We've all seen them. We've all taken them — and we all recognize that selfies have very little value.
MasterCard is about to release a new authentication step built entirely around the iconic selfie. Rather than rely on traditional signatures or PIN codes, the new technology leverages facial recognition software to verify users’ identities. The credit card company has launched a pilot project for First Tech Federal Credit Union employees to see if the concept really takes off.
Will it though?
Selfie Photos and the Rise of Biometric Authentication
MasterCard's selfie venture is only the most recent foray into biometric verification technologies. There already exist countless fingerprint scanning options used to unlock phones or initiate purchases. Apple's Touch ID is one of the most popular — but certainly not the first.
There also exist numerous voice recognition solutions that allow users to shop online. Again, Apple's Siri is one of the most popular technologies around.
Yet why introduce a new biometric verification method? Does it really make sense to make space for selfies in today's payment industry?
That remains to be seen, but adding selfies to the mix offers an additional layer of protection. Used in isolation, facial recognition isn't terribly secure, but when combined with other authentication steps, the selfie will make it much harder for criminals to steal sensitive data. One might be able to copy your facial print, but how likely is it for someone to also have your PIN code and fingerprint?
That’s the whole point.
Providing users with a random assortment of security features helps to make each individual a less likely target for would-be thieves. It’s analogous to having bolted locks AND a dog AND an alarm system all working in tandem to keep your home and belongings safe.
Whether or not MasterCard's gamble pays off is still unclear. Though at a time when data breaches and credit card fraud are on the rise, consumers continue to clamor for new security features — even if this means embracing selfies.
According to MasterCard's studies, selfie authentication could pay off huge. Senior VP, Catherine Murchie, explains,
“A recent MasterCard survey found that 83 percent of consumers are excited about new secure technologies helping to protect their financial information.”
Do You Need Selfie Authentication in Your Business?
Selfie authentication is a novel concept in many ways, but as a merchant, you don't have to necessarily rush to update your payment system. MasterCard's pilot project is still in its early stages. If it succeeds, most of the initial updates will likely come from credit card issuers, smartphone manufacturers and payment processors.
In other words, you don't have to do anything right now.
However, this announcement highlights how quickly the credit card industry continues to evolve. It also illustrates the importance of regularly revisiting your payment infrastructure to ensure that it follows the latest security best practices.