Though I'm not opposed to the occasional selfie--What? If you want to immortalize your good hair day, sometimes you've got no other choice--I'm the first to admit that our society has become consumed by nauseating narcissism. (I also believe the selfie stick's true purpose is to whack public selfie-takers upside the head, but that's beside the point.) Regardless, MasterCard sees such behaviors as an opportunity to engage and protect consumers of all ages with its latest innovation.That's right! MasterCard customers may soon be able to complete purchases using their very own face. As security becomes an increasing concern for all credit card customers, MasterCard plans to test facial scan technology with 500 consumers this fall in an effort to alleviate the forgotten password burden and offer improved safety measures.
MasterCard told CNNMoney that users will need to download the MasterCard smartphone app in order to use this new feature. A pop-up will then ask customers for authorization after they've paid for something online. Users need only stare at their phone and blink once to complete the process. Blinking ensures that identity thieves will not be able to merely hold your photo up to their phone camera and fool the system. MasterCard also plans to test fingerprint scan technology, much like Apple's 2013 innovation, in an effort to provide consumers with multiple biometric identification options.
But, while MasterCard assures critics that this technology will not store images of consumers' fingerprints or faces, security experts are still wary that saving the encrypted data to MasterCard's on-site database, not each individual user's phone, may invite increased risk. However, because MasterCard remains in the planning stages, no definite decisions will be made until the company completes its pilot program. Future strategies may also incorporate voice recognition technology if the previous biometric options take off.
While the concept certainly seems intriguing, MasterCard and its team of innovators will need to ensure that the foundational technologies are flawless before rolling these options out to all customers. Judging by my iPhone 6's fickle fingerprint scanner, biometric technologies are far from perfect. (Like Baby Bear's bowl of porridge, my thumb's temperature must be just right to unlock my phone.) Also, if they want to appeal to all demographics, not just the younger generations, MasterCard might want to avoid using the term 'selfie' too frequently. Even those age groups that supposedly believe such behaviors are 'cool' will likely turn away from these tools if they're perceived as naÃ¯ve and juvenile. Otherwise, biometrics in the banking industry, especially, appears to be the wave of the future and, if done correctly, MasterCard may be the first to effectively bring such innovations to the masses.