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MasterCard to use selfies for payment authentication

In what sounds like a dangerous mix of security and the trendy, MasterCard has announced that it will start trialling a new payment authentication method – namely using a selfie to verify an online transaction.

Of course, the search for alternative methods to replace the clunky password is nothing new, but using an image of yourself with the front camera of your phone is certainly a daring thought when it comes to verifying a financial transaction.

"The new generation, which is into selfies ... I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," Ajay Bhalla, the man who comes up with new security solutions for MasterCard, told CNN. Although exactly how important “coolness” is when it comes to online financial security is a rather debatable point.

The user will have to blink for the camera to get their payment accepted, a measure introduced to make sure that it’s a real face in front of the phone and not just a photo.

The pilot scheme will kick-off later this year come the autumn, involving around 500 participants. It will also use fingerprint authentication, so you’ll be able to use your digit or your face to validate your payment – and if the trial goes well, the tech will get a public rollout.

MasterCard has apparently already negotiated partnerships with all major mobile phone platforms, and is finalising deals with a pair of major banks right now.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.