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MasterCard testing facial recognition for online payments

MasterCard is trialling a system whereby your phone’s front-facing camera is used to approve online purchases.

When you reach the checkout, this new system will ask you to hold up your smartphone and essentially take a selfie – the idea being that this is far easier than remembering yet another password.

The payment company will start experimenting with this new form of biometric security in the autumn, reveals CNN.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” says MasterCard’s Ajay Bhalla.

Aside from appealing to the selfie generation, it’s hoped that this facial recognition system will prove more resistant to fraud. Passwords can be stolen or intercepted, which is why biometrics are such an area of interest for tech and payment companies.

MasterCard’s facial recognition tests will take the form of a small 500-person pilot programme that will also incorporate fingerprint recognition. Users will have the option of using either method at checkout.

In both cases, MasterCard won’t keep a picture of your face or fingerprint on file. The process will essentially convert your facial profile to code, and that won’t be able to be reconstructed at the other end.

In terms of the potential for facial recognition fraud – also known as holding up a picture of the person you’re stealing from – MasterCard’s system requires you to blink once in order to authenticate.

Related: MasterCard: The UK is ‘completely ready’ for Apple Pay

The company says that it has partnered with every smartphone maker, name-checking major players like Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, and BlackBerry.

Find out how Apple’s fingerprint-scanning smartphone, the iPhone 6, fares in our video review below.

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