MasterCard aims to replace passwords with biometrics for payments: report

November 14, 2014 - 

Given the prevalence of fingerprint-scanning smartphones, MasterCard has made plans to allow consumers to use biometric authentication instead of passwords to complete online transactions.

According to a report from U.K. technology news site V3, MasterCard wants to take a “multi-layered” approach to authentication that could make use of biometrics such as fingerprint, voice and facial recognition take the place of its current password-based security solution “3D Secure”. It will also be working alongside Visa to accelerate the adoption of new protocols including Apple Pay that would bypass the need for consumers to remember passwords.

MasterCard Authentication Strategy SVP Bob Reany told V3 that one of the threats posed by password-based security is that people are generally bad at remembering different passwords for different services, causing them to use the same password for everything. This makes it easy for accounts to be compromised.

“There’s a big pot gold for the bad guys – they do these attacks on databases of millions of credentials worth thousands of dollars every time you get a compromised card,” he told V3. “It the most attractive thing – you’ve given yourself a hell of a target.”

Reany said Visa and Mastercard are working with Apple to bring Apple Pay contactless payments to Europe, which is a topic on which Apple has yet to made a statement.

MasterCard and Visa are aiming to bring new, widely adopted protocols online as early as 2015.

Providing alternatives to passwords that can be easily stolen or forgotten, Mastercard has already partnered with Zwipe in October to launch a fingerprint authenticated payment card for contactless payments, and announced plans to use the Nymi Band ECG-authentication wristband for contactless transactions in Canada before the end of the year.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.