MasterCard showcased their new Identity Check product at the Mobile World Congress in late February, announcing that after successful trials they will be rolling it out this summer in North America and across much of Europe. Identity Check is an application consumers will be able to download onto their mobile devices, tablets and PCs that will facilitate biometric verification to validate eCommerce and mCommerce transactions. It supports fingerprint reading and/or facial recognition depending on the end user’s device, although most of the publicity has been around the ‘selfie’ authentication feature.
MasterCard first announced Identity Check in October 2015, with plans for a U.S. launch in mid-2016 and a global rollout to follow the next year. After trials in the United States and Netherlands, where 92 percent of pilot testers said they preferred Identity Check authentication to using passwords, MasterCard is moving ahead of schedule with an international launch accompanying the mid-2016 rollout in the U.S. This includes Canada, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, where MasterCard Identity Check will be available sometime this summer.
Associating facial recognition biometrics with selfies has garnered MasterCard’s Identity Check a lot of media attention, but may also lead to some confusion with news outlets using terms like ‘selfie pay’ to describe the service. While this could imply or be misinterpreted that a consumer is taking a selfie to make a payment, they are still completing a transaction as normal by providing their payment information and later using Identity Check to authenticate this transaction. MasterCard Identity Check is really a new application for facilitating more secure forms of authentication for MasterCard payment card transactions when further authentication is required. Rather than use a static password or have their issuing bank send a one-time password (OTP) via SMS to authenticate with MasterCard SecureCode, a consumer will be able to open the Identity Check app to scan their fingerprint or pass facial recognition.
MasterCard demoed Identity Check showing how to complete authentication using fingerprint scanning such as Apple Touch ID, as well as the lauded selfie feature. The consumer receives a notification on their phone, and upon opening the notification or app is shown the transaction amount with the option to confirm or prevent the transaction. Users can select their authentication preference and upon confirming the transaction amount are given a biometric test. MasterCard says the facial recognition technology includes algorithms to detect video and requires to user to blink upon instruction.
In addition to fingerprint scanning and facial recognition as forms of biometric verification, MasterCard is also exploring using electrocardiograms, or heartbeat rhythms, with Identity Check, as well as iris cans and voice recognition. In MasterCard’s initial October 2015 announcement about Identity Check it was also stated that the service would support dynamic passwords or OTPs.
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