Mastercard’s biometric technology allows users to pay by scanning a face or palm.


Mastercard is launching a new technology that allows shoppers to pay only in person or by hand at the checkout.

The company on Tuesday launched a program for retailers that offers biometric payment methods such as face recognition and fingerprint scanning. At registration, users will be able to verify the authenticity of their payment by showing their face or palm instead of holding a card.

The program has already taken place at five St Marche grocery stores in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mastercard says it plans to deploy it worldwide later this year.

“All the research we’ve done has shown us that consumers love biometrics,” Ajay Bhala, president of cyber and intelligence Mastercard, told CNBC.

“They want payment in the store to be as convenient as opening a phone.”

It is expected that by 2025, about 1.4 billion people will use face recognition technology for the authenticity of payments, which will more than double from 671 million in 2020, according to Juniper Research.

How does it work?

To register on Mastercard, you take a photo of your face or scan your fingerprint to register it in the app. This is done either on your smartphone or in the payment terminal. You can then add a credit card that will be linked to your biometric data.

This is similar to the technology Amazon is testing in the US

Mastercard says it later plans to bring the program to the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In the long run, Mastercard’s vision is to make the technology “globally compatible,” Bhala said. “So if you keep your credentials, you can use it anywhere.”

The feature can integrate with loyalty schemes and provide personalized recommendations based on previous purchases, Mastercard said.

Is it safe?

The use of biometric information for payments causes many problems with privacy and data collection methods.

For its part, Mastercard says that all the data that customers enter into its system is encrypted in a way that ensures that their privacy is not compromised.

When you register, your face or fingerprint scan is replaced by a “token” – a random string of alphanumeric characters – and then linked to your payment card.

Mastercard said it has created a set of standards to protect users’ data. The company is working with several other firms to launch this feature, including Fujitsu, NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace and PopID.

Preparing for the “metaworld”

Mastercard biometric tools may one day help develop a payment infrastructure for the “metaworld,” Bhala believes.

“What we’re working on is the metacosm,” he said.

The metaworld refers to a hypothetical virtual world where users can work, trade, or communicate. That term caused a lot of noise in Silicon Valley thanks to Facebook’s rebranding of Meta last year.

At a media briefing in London, Mastercard showcased an augmented reality headset that warns the user when he is on a potentially fraudulent e-commerce site. Another feature the company is experimenting with allows users to select and buy items in a virtual store using only eyes.

These products are further from reality than Mastercard’s biometric services, but make it clear what to expect in the future.

Bhala said people can end up trying on clothes almost before buying or linking their indispensable tokens – digital assets that secure ownership of a virtual item in a blockchain – to their biometric identity.

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