Mastercard's New Tech Lets You Pay with Your Face or Hand in Stores

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Key Points:

  • Mastercard has launched a new program in Brazil that enables retailers to receive payments through biometric methods like facial recognition and fingerprint scans
  • Users can make payments without needing to swipe their cards by showing their faces or waving their palms
  • A Mastercard executive says that the system is secure and could open the door to digital payments for “the metaverse”

This Tuesday, Mastercard launched a new contactless payment system that allows shoppers to pay for their items just by using their hands or faces.

The pilot program uses fingerprint scanning and facial recognition tech to recognize biometrics for authorizing transactions. Five St. Marche grocery stores in Sao Paulo are already using the new tech. Mastercard plans to go global with the new tech later this year.

Ajay Bhalla, President of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard, is optimistic about the new payment system, “All the research that we’ve done has told us that consumers love biometrics”.

According to a survey, Mastercard reported that over 70% of retail customers have a positive attitude towards biometrics. Additionally, 93% of the respondents are considering a new payment method this year. “They want to make a payment at a store to be as convenient as opening their phone”.

Facial recognition technology could enable over 1.4 billion customers to make payments in the next 3 years, doubling the 671 million shoppers believed to be using the technology in 2020.

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No need for cards. A smile or a wave will do!

Mastercard’s new tech is contactless, as it allows people to use facial expressions or hand gestures at check-out.

Customers need to register themselves to a Mastercard mobile app and link their cards to it. Once that is done, they can use their phone or a dedicated in-store terminal to confirm the payment. Bhalla wants the tech to be “globally interoperable”, adding that “once you’ve stored your credentials, you could use this anywhere”.

Mastercard intends to make the service compatible with third-party merchants and identity digital providers, allowing shoppers to use the services in-store or at home. The app can also be integrated into customer loyalty programs that can make product recommendations based on prior purchases.

Safe & Easy Shopping

The contactless shopping program is in line with Mastercard’s vision to transform everyone’s shopping experience by “providing the best of both security and convenience”.

The biometrics system allows customers more choice in how they want to pay without sacrificing security features. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased concerns about hygiene. The new experience offers a neat solution to problems posed by conventional payment services. Merchants can take advantage of the system with faster transactions, shorter lines at the cash counter, and better security.

Data Privacy and Security are a Priority

Mastercard is working hard to ensure that user data is secure. The company has partnered with many firms to work on the payment system including Fujitsu, NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace, and PopID.

Every transaction is encrypted with a custom set of cybersecurity standards developed by Mastercard. When a customer confirms payment through a face or hand scan, they receive a randomly generated alphanumeric token that is linked to their card and encrypted.

The global payment merchant has also outlined its principles for data responsibility, that govern its biometric payment program.

Getting Ready for the Metaverse

Mastercard is aware of the potential of the biometric tech for developing a digital payment infrastructure centered around the metaverse, the new social media application being worked on by Meta. “What we are working towards is the metaverse”, Bhalla says.

The metaverse is the brainchild of Facebook’s rebranding project, where users can engage in VR chatroom experiences. There has been much hype around the project, and many companies are willing to invest millions of dollars to take advantage of the capabilities of the metaverse.

For Mastercard, the metaverse provides opportunities to create an immersive shopping experience.

The company recently demonstrated an augmented reality headset that warns the wearer of potentially fraudulent e-commerce sites. The company is also looking for ways to allow users to select and buy items at a virtual store through eye contact.

There’s still some time before these technologies are ready to hit the market. For now, we have to settle for paying while smiling and waving. “People could eventually try on some clothes virtually before buying, or link their NFTs – digital artwork owned and stored on a blockchain – with their biometric identity”, notes Bhalla.

Simple Global: The Future of Digital Commerce

At Simple Global, we are excited about the new possibilities that Mastercard’s new tech will unleash.

There are continuous developments taking place in e-commerce and order fulfillment technology, and we want to be at the forefront of these transformations. The new biometric technologies using fingerprints, facial recognition, voice recognition, etc. do not end with consumer identification. These can be extended to recognizing products throughout the manufacturing process, order fulfillment, and logistics, and that’s what we are most thrilled about.

As an e-commerce, order fulfillment, and warehousing solutions provider, Simple Global embraces these new developments and newly enhanced technologies that not only permit faster verification and identification but also result in frictionless transactions, improved business security, and better customer experiences.