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Can Selfies Replace Passwords for Credit Card Payments?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Selfies, long derided as a symbol of narcissism and oversharing, have found a more serious purpose.

The next time you do some online shopping or call your bank, you may find you no longer have to scrabble around to remember your security password.

Banks are increasingly turning to voice recognition technology as their preferred way of ensuring customers are who they say they are when they use telephone banking services.

Mastercard has even announced that it will accept fingerprints or selfies as proof of identity for online purchases.

credit card

Get ready for this: Soon, selfies will not only be a good way to record the passing of time upon your face everywhere you go. As physical features are unique of each person, they will also be used as credit card passwords. At least that’s what credit card firm MasterCard thinks.

The company announced at the Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona that it will soon be accepting selfies as an alternative to passwords for online payments.

The service will be available next summer in the USA, Canada and several European countries such as Italy, France, Netherlands, UK and Spain.

Selfies could replace security passwords – but only with an upgrade

In order to use it, customers will only have to download an app to their computer, tablet or smartphone. Then, they will only have to look at the camera or use the device’s fingerprint reader (if available).

However (at least for the moment), customers will still have to provide their credit card details. It’s if additional authentication is required that they will be able to use the aforementioned feature.

With this new strategy, MasterCard aims to protect customers from fake online transactions made with users’ stolen passwords, as well as providing a more convenient system to users. In fact, the company says that 92 percent of the people who have tested the new system prefer it to traditional passwords.

Even though biometric security experts have already heralded that iris-scanning, facial recognition, fingerprints and even voice recognition will be the future, MasterCard’s initiative has re-opened the debate of whether selfies can be a safe replacement for passwords.

In fact, some experts have started wondering how information will be protected to prevent cyber-crooks from easily obtaining a user’s fingerprints or facial photograph if a transaction is made via careless use of a public Wi-Fi network.

In a few months, security experts will be able to tell whether MasterCard’s system is sufficiently safe, or if in this case, the cure is worse than the disease.

Meanwhile, the company will continue to investigate into iris, voice and even electrocardiogram recognition as biometric alternatives to passwords.


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