MasterCard wants selfies to authorize mobile payments in the future

If MasterCard has its way, you’ll soon be taking selfies of yourself to buy things online.

The company announced on Thursday that it’s working on a new system that will use facial recognition to authorize online and mobile payments.

Set to launch next year, the system works as follows: after bringing their phone to eye level, a person looks at its screen and then blinks after being prompted to do so. Each time this is done, the system creates a map of the face that it converts to a hash, which is then compared against a copy stored on one of MasterCard’s servers. If the two files match, a payment is authorized. The blink, for those wondering, is there to ensure that a malicious person can’t trick the system by showing a picture of one’s face. There’s also the option to use a fingerprint to authorize a payment, but that’s so 2013.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” said Ajay Bhalla, one of the MasterCard employees working on the solution, to CNN Money.

The company is planning to launch a 500-person pilot in the near future to test the system, and it’s reportedly working with all the major smartphone makers, including Apple, BlackBerry, Google and Microsoft, to bring the solution to as many smartphones as possible.

It all sounds great in theory, to be sure, but if the past week has shown the tech community anything it’s that facial recognition technology still has a long way to go before it works perfectly for non-caucasians.

MasterCard has had an obsession with Biometrics as of late. Besides this latest development, in November the company partnered with the Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-based startup Nymi to pilot the use of the latter’s ECG band as a way to authenticate mobile payments.

[source]CNN Money[/source][via]Engadget[/via]