MasterCard Has Launched New Biometric Tech – Meaning You Can Pay With Just Your Hand Or Face

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Mastercard is coming up with the technology that will allow shoppers to make payments with their face or hand at the checkout point.

The company on Tuesday launched a program for retailers to offer biometric payment methods, like facial recognition and fingerprint scanning.

The program has already gone live in five St Marche grocery stores in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mastercard says it plans to expand it globally later this year.

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

Mastercard's biometric checkout technology lets users pay by scanning their face or palm.

“They want to make a payment at a store to be as convenient as opening their phone.”

According to calculations by Juniper Research, around 1.4 billion people will use facial recognition technology to authenticate a payment by 2025, more than doubling from 671 million in 2020.

To sign up on Mastercard, you take a picture of your face or scan your fingerprint to register it with an app. It can be done through a smartphone or at a payment terminal. You can then add a credit card, which gets linked to your biometric data.

Mastercard aims to bring this to the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia later.

In the long run, Mastercard’s vision is to make the tech “globally interoperable,” Bhalla said. “So once you’ve stored your credentials, you could use this anywhere.”

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

Mastercard says all the data customers enter into its system is encrypted in a way that ensures their privacy isn’t compromised.

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

The company is working with multiple firms to launch the feature, including Fujitsu, NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace, and PopID.

Mastercard’s biometric tools could one day help with the development of payments infrastructure for the “metaverse,” according to Bhalla.

“What we are working towards is the metaverse,” he said.

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