Mastercard to launch facial recognition payment app in Australia

February 9, 2017 - 

MasterCard will soon launch its MasterCard Identity Check app in Australia, which enables users to use facial recognition to complement their passwords instead of completely replacing them, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The credit card giant initially began rolling out the Identity Check app, nicknamed “Selfie Pay”, in Canada and the U.S. last March, and plans to launch the service in Australia later this year but has not specified an exact launch date.

In addition to facial recognition, the app also supports fingerprint recognition to serve as a form of two-factor authentication. MasterCard will also be offering an API that allows financial institutions to integrate these security features into their own apps.

During their online shopping experience, MasterCard customers will be greeted with a popup notification on their app requesting them to authenticate.

MasterCard says the app will be available as a free opt-in additional service for Apple, Android and Windows Phone devices, enabling customers to swipe their finger on the device’s fingerprint reader or to take a selfie with the front camera.

To serve as an additional security measure, the app is linked to the customer’s mobile device.

The biometric authentication feature offers more flexibility than payment services like Apple Pay in that it does not involve partnerships with handset manufacturers. Instead it is simply an agreement between MasterCard and the customer’s financial institution.

Another strong security measure of the app is that MasterCard does not store the customer’s actual fingerprint or photo on the device. Rather, it examines the face/fingerprint scan and uses an algorithm to create a string of numbers which is encrypted and then sent to the credit card firm to compare with the encrypted string it has on file.

In terms of facial recognition, the app analyzes 72 points of the user’s face and prompts you to blink in order to prove that another individual isn’t just holding up a photograph of the user to falsely gain access.

If the system finds a match of the two images and the online purchase is approved, the app immediately deletes the photo and fingerprint.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.