Mastercard says it will trial a biometric payment system for physical stores, using facial recognition biometrics rather than contactless cards, smartphones or memorable PINs.
The Biometric Checkout Program, as it is called, would let a shopper scan their face using a retailer’s smartphone app and assign their likeness to a bank card stored on file. The technology is comparable to how Apple Pay uses FaceID to approve payments or unlock a device.
“When the pandemic happened, we saw that everybody went digital and consumers embraced new technologies,” says Ajay Bhalla, President, Cyber & Intelligence, Mastercard. “Consumers actually all over the world asked us for that for shopping, for their retail experiences.”
To sign up on Mastercard, you take a picture of your face or scan your fingerprint to register it with an app. This is done either on your smartphone or at a payment terminal. You can then add a credit card, which gets linked to your biometric data.
A pilot program has already kicked off inside five St Marche supermarkets in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The stores will use an app developed by Brazilian startup Payface, one of the small businesses Mastercard promotes as part of its Start Path engagement program.
On the hardware side, Mastercard is working with companies including NEC and Fujitsu, with plans to roll out internationally soon.
“We’ve got the Middle East and Africa lined up, Asia and Latin America,” says Nili Klenoff, a senior vice president of product innovation at Mastercard. “We’re really looking forward to bringing this solution everywhere.”
She said more features that can use this technology are in the works. Age verification for purchasing restricted store items “is one actually that we’re beginning to explore and one that we’re really excited about.”
Facial recognition is just one of many technologies being trialled by retailers, banks and payments firms to eliminate cash and reduce fraud.
About 1.4 billion people are expected to use facial recognition technology to authenticate a payment by 2025, more than doubling from 671 million in 2020, according to a forecast from Juniper Research.
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