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Will we all be banking by selfie by 2019?

Mastercard are planning to roll out biometric identity checks for online payments for all their cards by April next year

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Mastercard told banks issuing their debit and credit cards that they must offer biometric authentication (in addition to existing PIN and password verification), when you pay for something online, over the phone, or by contactless payment on your mobile.

The new technology dubbed ‘Mastercard Identity Check Mobile’, means cardholders will no longer need to recall passwords to authenticate payments.

Instead, you’ll be able to prove your identity with a smartphone by using the fingerprint scanner on or via facial recognition technology by taking a “selfie”.

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Are you really paying by selfie? How the biometric payments work

For the moment they are only being developed for online payments, and you need a phone that supports the technology to benefit.

When you are at the online checkout, or at the stage of a transaction where you are usually sent a one-time password to your mobile or email to confirm your identity, you will be able to use either facial recognition or fingerprint verification on your mobile phone instead.

You can still use passwords to prove your identity if you prefer, but Mastercard believe biometric identification to be the more secure and easier future of authenticating payments.

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Why is Mastercard implementing this now?

Mastercard claim recent trials and research discovered European consumers prefer biometric payments to current systems that rely on passwords.

They say that existing identity verification methods take shoppers away from the checkout to separate security site where they are often required to enter another password.

This can be both time consuming and frustrating if you can’t remember your password, or get your transaction declined due to incorrectly entering it.


Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard UK and Ireland, said:

“Biometric technologies perfectly meet the public’s expectation for state-of-the-art security when making a payment.

“This will be of great benefit to everyone: consumers, retailers and banks. It will make the purchase much smoother, and instead of having to remember passwords to authenticate, shoppers will have the chance to use a fingerprint or a picture of themselves.”

When will it be available?

There’s no hard dates set yet when each bank will introduce biometric authentication, but Mastercard says it must be in place by April 2019.