New Mastercard feature that lets you pay with a selfie coming to North American market

Mastercard will debut Identity Check Mobile, which allows mobile users to verify their identity for mobile payments with a selfie or fingerprint, in North America in early 2017.

Image: Mastercard

Mastercard is bringing its Identity Check Mobile feature--which allows mobile payment verification with fingerprints or selfies--to the North American market in partnership with BMO Financial Group, the company announced Monday.

According to a press release announcing the expansion, BMO customers in the US and Canada will have access to the technology sometime in the first half of 2017. The feature was rolled out in 12 European markets the first week of October.

Mastercard and BMO partnered on a soft launch earlier this year, according to the release, and conducted a survey after the initial roll out. They found that 74% of respondents said biometrics--like fingerprints of selfies--were easier to use than traditional passwords, and 90% said they believed they would use biometrics for online payment security in the future.

SEE: 10 mobile payment systems you need to know

To use the new feature, BMO customers will have to opt-in to Identity Check Mobile, the release said. A single application will be jointly provided by BMO and Mastercard that will notify the user when verification is needed for a mobile payment, and will prompt them to input a fingerprint or take a selfie.

By eliminating the need for traditional passwords, and speeding up the mobile payment process, the goal is to increase the conversion rate for online shopping.

"Making the online payment experience near frictionless and more secure is a priority for Mastercard," Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security for Mastercard, said in the press release. "Moving this technology beyond the pilot phase is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. Online payments are being revolutionized; and now we are making Identity Check Mobile a reality for commercial use in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and soon, the world."

Mobile payments are booming, and a report from IEEE claimed that this payment method could officially kill cash by as early as 2030. Broadening the options for payment verification could speed the adoption rate for mobile payments while, hopefully, adding some extra security.

In March, Google launched its own innovation in the mobile payments space, adding a hands-free option for verification. A pilot program called Hands Free uses wireless technologies to proove a user is in a store, and they can complete a purchase by giving the cashier their initials. Another version of Hands Free relies on images only, matching a picture taken of the purchaser to a picture in their profile.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A new Mastercard feature called Identity Check Mobile, which lets you verify payments with a selfie, is coming to North America for BMO Financial Group customers.
  2. The opt-in feature speeds up the mobile payment process and could increase the conversion rate for online shopping.
  3. Similar tools like Google's Hands Free feature also use facial recognition to verify online payments.

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