MasterCard believes a picture can lead the way to a more secure system that protects consumers and the way they verify their payments. Recently, the financial giant unveiled a new strategy to ditch the troublesome (and hack-able) passwords and annoying security questions in an effort to arm consumers with a new way to authenticate their identities. Debuting at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, MasterCard will begin rolling out an interactive app that will give users the option to take a selfie or scan their fingers to approve and process their online expenses.
It’s a clever and timely solution. By using algorithmic and biometric checks in certain contexts, app users can securely validate themselves and safeguard their information to combat credit card fraud and data breaches. Targeted to millennials and the tech-savvy mobile users, MasterCard’s new initiative winks directly at our selfie-loving consumer culture while positioning itself as a preventative solution to thwart fraudulent behaviors and other suspicious activities. An innovation like this has the potential for a ripple effect on payments, mobile devices and security. AtIn a time when fraud or cyber-security threats of the smallest magnitude shakes up the news every day, there’s a unique value in knowing you can validate yourself and your spending with an accurate “proof of life” to protect your account information and online shopping habits.
It’s both exciting and scary that the characteristics of one’s likeness can serve as a precise security measure that can replace pesky passwords and PIN codes. But what are the foreseeable pitfalls of MasterCard’s new tool? Cash has remained king for as far back as we can remember, so it’s likely that some people won’t see the need for using another set of technology as a link for their finances. However, is it possible that we could soon operate in banks, stores and mobile apps, using our personal authentication as a replacement for dollars and cents? Most, if not all, of the uneasiness probably stems from our connection to our identities and wanting to keep them secure. Are consumers even prepared to make align themselves with such a change in the way they purchase products and services? Biometric authentication will have to be multi-factored beyond just the physical for it to truly gain popularity for all consumers, not just mobile device users or the technologically inclined. Features such as close analytics of behavioral habits, speech and rhythm patterns will have to be included for it to appeal to all users, not just mobile bankers and online shoppers.
MasterCard’s new feature also proves that financial institutions are leaning on technology to enhance security efforts, earn the trust among consumers and protect their interests. Earlier this year, UK bank HSBC announced they would begin replacing their usual security protocol with voice recognition and support for Apple’s Touch ID. But exactly how safe and secure is using your likeness as a verified banking and payment credential? An immediate concern would be that a consumer might be forced to access their account unwillingly. In this case, biometric technology would need to be nneed to beot only have to predictive enough to track not only independent physical components and and, but adaptable enough to track environmental factors, customer habits and history and other situational factors with extreme precision.
It’s too early to tell if selfie and touch authentication will be the most appropriate alternative to passwords. However, it definitely underlines the idea of how personal technology can quickly expand to become universal.