Mastercard to Implement Biometrics for In-Store Card Payments

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Mastercard is implementing biometrics for card payments, with plans to go live by April 2019.

The financial giant said that all consumers will be able to identify themselves with biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition whenever they pay in stores with Mastercard. Biometric options will also be implemented for all contactless transactions made at terminals with a mobile device.

In practice, that means that banks issuing Mastercard-branded cards will have to be able to offer biometric authentication for remote transactions, alongside existing PIN and password verification.

The increased availability of biometric capabilities on tablets and smartphones – like Apple’s FaceID – and the EU’s new regulatory requirements for strong authentication are driving Mastercard’s move, the company said.

“Biometric technologies perfectly meet the public’s expectation for state-of-the-art security when making a payment,” said Mark Barnett, president, Mastercard UK & Ireland. “This will be of great benefit to everyone: consumers, retailers and banks. It will make the purchase much smoother, and instead of having to remember passwords to authenticate, shoppers will have the chance to use a fingerprint or a picture of themselves.”

The vast majority of consumers – 93% –prefer biometrics over passwords for validating payments, according to a research paper conducted by Oxford University in collaboration with Mastercard. It also found that 92% of banking professionals want to adopt biometric solutions.

Banks also report that when such biometric authentication is used, customers are much more inclined to go through with their purchase. The abandonment rates can drop by up to 70% compared to other methods, like two-factor authentication with codes sent via SMS.

Existing methods to prove an identity online can also take shoppers away from a retailer’s website if they’re too time consuming or complex. One way to solve that is moving from a reliance on what the consumer knows (e.g., passwords) and what they have (card or smart device) to what they have (e.g. ,mobile phone) and who they are (their biometrics).

Mastercard is not new to the biometrics game. Mastercard Identity Check, now available in 37 countries around the world, is an authentication solution that enables individuals to use biometric identifiers, such as fingerprint, iris and facial recognition, to verify their identity using a mobile device during online shopping and banking activities. Better known as "pay-by-selfie" across Europe, its goal is improved friction-free authentication for users.

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