Mastercard is officially throwing its weight behind biometric payments. The company has announced a new program, global in scope, that will see partner retailers deploy technologies allowing customers to verify purchases through a contactless biometric scan, without the need to present a payment card, cash, mobile app, or any other physical token.
Dubbed the “Biometric Checkout Program”, it’s still in an early phase. The program will begin with a pilot in Brazil in collaboration with St Marche, a supermarket chain headquartered in São Paolo. Five stores across the populous city will allow customers to sign up to the Biometric Checkout Program and pay for groceries with a face scan.
The firms’ tech partner for the pilot is Payface, a Brazilian startup that already has a presence across six of the country’s states. Payface was selected for Mastercard’s Start Path accelerator program at the start of this year, a development that is clearly now paying off for the facial recognition-based payments specialist.
Shoppers who wish to participate in the St Marche Biometric Checkout Program will be able to enroll their face biometrics using the Payface app; once enrolled, they can confirm their purchases with a smile for the camera at an automated checkout kiosk.
Mastercard’s naked payments program won’t be limited to Brazil, however; nor to Payface. The financial services giant says that it is currently preparing further pilots for the Middle East and Asia, and that it is also working with a number of other tech partners including NEC, Aurus, Fujitsu Limited, PaybyFace, and the growing Silicon Valley startup PopID, which recently announced a separate collaboration with Visa to launch biometric payment programs in the Middle East.
The Biometric Checkout Program won’t be limited to facial recognition as its sole modality, either. In a statement announcing the Program, Mastercard indicated that in addition to paying with a face scan, participants will also be able to pay with a “wave of your hand,” though it did not elaborate on the technology or vendor that would facilitate that particular biometric mechanism.
In its announcement, Mastercard asserted that it “has long pioneered biometrics – in-store and online – as a secure way to verify identity, replacing the password with the person.” The company noted that its new effort builds on its EMV 3-D Secure standard, and that its previous efforts to leverage biometrics, such as its ‘Selfie Pay’ solution for secure online purchases, adhered to the high authentication standards of the FIDO Alliance.
“The way we pay needs to keep pace with the way we live, work and do business, offering choice to consumers with the highest levels of security,” explained Mastercard Cyber & Intelligence President Ajay Bhalla. “Our goal with this new program is to make shopping a great experience for consumers and merchants alike, providing the best of both security and convenience.”
Bhalla and his team appear to expect a warm embrace of the Biometric Checkout Program from a significant proportion of shoppers, with Mastercard’s announcement citing data from IDEMIA indicating that 74 percent of consumers have “a positive attitude” toward biometric tech.
May 17, 2022 – by Alex Perala