Mastercard aims to enhance the shopping experience with biometric payment

Pay "with a smile or a wave of the hand": this is the promise of American giant Mastercard, which has just unveiled its biometric payment program. This technology, which uses fingerprints and facial recognition, aims to enhance the shopping experience. It will be deployed in selected retail outlets.

Pay for your purchases with "just a smile

Mastercard is launching a biometric payment program, the Biometric Checkout Program, whose pilot phase has just started in Brazil in 5 establishments of a supermarket chain in São Paulo, via the PayFace application.

" Customers of these supermarkets will be able to register their face and payment information in the Payface app. After that, a simple smile will allow them to pay for their purchases, without a card or mobile device," Mastercard explains in a release.

This technology, which Mastercard describes as promising " a fast and secure payment experience ", is based on fingerprint scanning using sensors, and facial recognition using a camera at the moment of payment.

According to Mastercard, biometric payment has a number of advantages, starting with its speed: " No more hassles at the checkout, no more interminable waiting times, and no more panic when it's time to get your hands on the card in your pocket or purse ", explains the American payment giant.

For retailers, biometric payment means shorter queues, more hygienic contact and greater customer loyalty.

For example, " the payment system can be offered as part of loyalty programs and personalized recommendations, to help consumers find products that might interest them based on their previous purchases ", explains Mastercard.

The thorny issue of data confidentiality

Biometric payment does, however, raise security issues. How will personal data be used? Will it be secure enough to prevent hacking?

In August 2019, the data of 90,000 German Mastercard customers had been hacked and published on the web. Subscribers to the "Priceless Specials" loyalty program had seen their e-mail address, credit card number, name, telephone number and address made public on a forum.

At the end of 2021, Facebook gave up facial recognition, offered to users to tag their friends when they posted a photo or video, in order to put an end to controversy and security concerns.

Mastercard anticipates these concerns by explaining that all its partners (including PayFace, Fujitsu Limited and PopID) " must comply with a regulatory framework, specifications and guidelines designed to guarantee security, technology performance levels and data protection for every biometric payment made in-store ".

By launching this biometric payment program, Mastercard is positioning itself as a direct competitor to Amazon, which is currently testing a payment technique based on a sensor reading the palm of the hand.

Mastercard also hopes to use biometric technology to offer virtual product purchases in the metaverse: this time, customers' eyes would be used to identify them, by means of an augmented reality headset.