MasterCard Will Soon Let You Authenticate Purchases By Taking A Glorious Selfie

The next time you see someone taking a selfie, it may not be because they're getting ready to post their mug on Facebook or Instagram; they might be authorizing an online transaction. Say what now? Believe it or not, MasterCard is going to pilot a new program that will seek approval for online purchases by scanning images of a user's face.

Once you've filled your virtual cart with whatever items you're buying and get to checkout, MasterCard will require you to hold your phone up and snap a photo of your face. MasterCard's thought process is that taking a selfie is easier than remembering a secure password. It also doesn't hurt that this generation is into taking selfies whenever possible, hence the advent of the selfie stick.


Ajay Bhalla, the person who's in charge of pitching innovative ideas to MasterCard, thinks "the new generation, which is into selfies" will ultimately "find it cool. They'll embrace it." If so, this will be a unique and potentially fun way to cut down on fraudulent purchases.

To use the feature, you'll need to download a MasterCard app for your smartphone. At checkout, a pop-up will ask for your authorization after you submit an order. You can choose to scan your fingerprint or opt for facial recognition, the latter of which requires that you stare at your phone's camera and blink a single time. Why the blink? This will prevent thieves from holding up a picture of the card's owner to trick the system.

There are some obvious privacy concerns here, though MasterCard says it doesn't actually receive a picture or fingerprint from its users. Instead, it's all converted to code and then securely sent through cyberspace to MasterCard. And according to Bhalla, MasterCard won't be able to use the code to piece together your face like a puzzle.