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Facial recognition could improve online security

04 March 2016 - 13:49 by Mike Price

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MasterCard is preparing to roll out a new service which will let customers verify their identities when making a payment, by snapping a selfie rather than entering a password.

Powered by facial recognition technology, the MasterCard Identity Check platform will set out to make it possible to carry out safe shopping online from a smartphone with a lower risk of fraud, according to the Telegraph.

Launching this summer in Europe and North America, the service is hoping to ultimately lead to the end of an era in which passwords have been the primary means of providing people with secure access to a range of online outlets.

The issue with passwords is that lots of people pick easy to remember combinations of letters and numbers, that can quickly be compromised by cybercriminals. So in recent years, more payment card companies and retailers have been looking for fresh types of authentication, often turning towards biometric options, like fingerprints, to achieve this.

Facial recognition is a new step, but one which should sit well with the selfie-literate generation of consumers that now carry out safe shopping online across the UK and the world.

MasterCard demonstrated the identity-verifying technology during last month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with spokesperson, Ajay Bhalla, explaining that passwords were not just an issue from a security point of view, but were also problematic because they can be an annoyance for shoppers to remember.

The facial recognition capabilities of the MasterCard service are advanced enough to detect whether or not the user is taking a legitimate selfie, or attempting to trick the system, by holding up a picture of someone else in front of the camera. This is achieved through blink detection, which is just one of the intelligent features built into this new biometric security service.