Are selfies the future of mobile payment tech?

Discussion
Mar 16, 2016
George Anderson

Pay by selfie may prove to be a thing. According to reports, Amazon.com has filed a patent for technology that would enable customers to make payments by taking a photo or video of themselves. (Okay, it’s more than just that. Details to follow.)

The idea behind the patent is to use facial recognition technology to make it easier for consumers to buy products online while increasing security levels.

According to a Re/code report, Amazon also believes its selfie payment technology will be helpful in social settings. Amazon maintains in its patent application that current forms of security “require the user to turn away from friends or co-workers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations.”

Amazon’s proposed tech also purports to deliver higher levels of security through a function that requires those making a payment to perform certain actions or movements to establish their identity.

As several reports point out, Amazon is not alone in looking at selfies as a means to transact payments. Alibaba and MasterCard are among businesses exploring the use of facial and/or fingerprint recognition for payments.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see facial recognition or some other type of authentication technology becoming the standard for mobile payments in the near future? Would you expect a retailer such as Amazon or a financial firm such as MasterCard to have an edge in developing the market for these types of payments?

Braintrust
"Selfies are no slam dunk to add authentication and ease to payments. It’s one of many alternatives to passwords being tested. Passwords have their detractors and facial and voice recognition are more secure...."
"Once the young Millennials and Generation Z have this option, I can see this "selfie option" becoming a standard form of payment, especially in entertainment and shopping. But I wonder what will happen to the billions of drunk selfie photos used to pay bar tabs at 2 am?"
"Seems like taking the long route for authentication β€” especially when compared with thumbprint for Apple Pay, or sending a verification message to a phone. I’m sure Amazon is looking more at creating a fun purchase experience than simply cutting down fraud."

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17 Comments on "Are selfies the future of mobile payment tech?"

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Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Maybe it’s me but I see selfies as a form of payment authentication as one of many things that fall on one side or the other of a generational divide. IMHO the younger you are the more likely you are to be a selfie user.

That being said I remember hearing “we are who we were when” in the early ’90s before it became a line in a song. This would seem to indicate that if the youth adopts selfies as a form payment authentication then it will gradually become one of the ways this can be done. Who knows, over time it may develop to be the way it is handled. For me I will stick with what I know.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The fingerprint scan by Apple works well for me, and it IS me! It is hard to tell if facial recognition will become the standard for authentication. There are other options that, even if somewhat less secure, may be easier and less obvious to use.

As I commented elsewhere yesterday: if you are going to use this technology when it comes out, don’t go shopping if you are having a bad-hair day. πŸ™‚

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Selfies are no slam dunk to add authentication and ease to payments. It’s one of many alternatives to passwords being tested. Passwords have their detractors and facial and voice recognition are more secure (especially when combined), but the transition to biometric authentication will be a slow one and something driven by demographics.

If MasterCard puts its might in retail into pushing the technology, it could help brick-and-mortar adoption, but short of patent protections it’s a minimal investment for even smaller websites to add facial recognition as a password and/or payment authentication method, so Amazon would have no special advantage here.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

Once the young Millennials and Generation Z have this option, I can see this “selfie option” becoming a standard form of payment, especially in all forms of entertainment and shopping. It would seem logical for MasterCard or Amex to have an edge on developing this technology but I’d never bet against Amazon since they remain edgy and will spend heavily against things they really want.

But I wonder what will happen to the billions of drunk selfie photos used to pay bar tabs at 2 am?

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Wait — turning away from friends while entering a password is awkward? Please.

I applaud the effort at additional security, but marketing it as a social tool is reaching, at best.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

This technology is inevitable. Stay tuned for even more innovative payment processes coming in the next 24 to 48 months. As with any new technology for retail, consumer adoption will be the metric for success.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
The key objective for selfie payments is authentication — which is ensuring that the person making the purchase is who they are purporting to be. The dominant format of authentication in the past and today has been the entry of a password or PIN. Facial recognition authentication, being branded as “selfie payments” in the headlines, is a form of bio-authentication that will see some traction in the coming years. When Alibaba initially announced their entry into this solution space last year there weren’t many details around how the technology would work, which led to questions around such scenarios as users holding photos to cameras to spoof the app or website into thinking the valid purchaser was completing the transaction. With MasterCard’s announcement last month, and certainly with the details contained within the patents filed by Amazon, we can start to see how these solutions will combat those potential concerns — in Amazon’s case, by having the purchaser perform certain live-action movements to complete the validation. With these and many other bio-authentication options being discussed (iris scans, voice authorization), consumers will ultimately dictate the most convenient solution for this space. The good news is that they are all focused on providing enhanced security… Read more Β»
Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

We are far from creating a standard for mobile payments and/or authentication. There will be a lot of experimentation for some time by a variety of companies. There are likely to be a variety of systems in use for quite some time because the way mobile devices are used differs among consumers. Finding one format that all or most consumers feel comfortable with on the variety of devices used by consumers and accepted by all sellers online and all retailers will happen. No one is ahead yet.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

This is amazing. I mean, how far have we come and how far is it possible for us to go? What is the problem with someone turning around when a password is being entered? Are we going too far? Or is it that we are already reaching that point? I think I am reaching the “too old for this stuff” point.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Calling it a “selfie” makes it cute. The reality is that security through fingerprint or facial recognition is an opportunity to aid in the effort to thwart cybercrime. Amazon has been on the leading edge of retail technology, and this falls right into that category. Other companies and industries that need a high level of security will follow suit (such as MasterCard, banks, etc.).

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

Though the use of facial recognition holds promise, it seems to be that it will represent a new hacker’s paradise. There are too many variables to consider in using this technology as a security measure and I would like to see major proponents of this tech take a deliberate approach to testing before rolling to a larger market.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust

Getting a patent here is going to be a major battle. That said, identification of people has always been a tough one, as we become more personally integrated WITH our technology.

Apple Pay is of course relying on your thumbprint to give you access to your Apple device, and then waving the device over the credit card payment facility at participating retailers, even allows you to designate which of possibly several credit card accounts you want to use for payment.

There is no reason that Amazon shouldn’t jump into the fray with facial recognition for pay — the devil’s in the details. After all, an increasing share of a lot of people’s payments are going through Amazon RIGHT NOW. Someone will dominate global retail, (there’s a chapter on that in my new book), and Amazon is in the pole position to own that dominance.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

The bottom line here? We need a safer way to transact payments other than simply entering or swiping a card. Maybe with or without a chip. Is it a selfie or a fingerprint? Or maybe it is simply a second form of validation. A random code texted to your cell phone. Or maybe any of the above.

I would quite honestly like to see these technology solutions developed outside of any financial firm ties. Why? Because I think the next payment solutions will find a way to bypass that extra expense.

But that’s just my 2 cents!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Facial recognition systems can be games, so a successful model would have to combine facial recognition with something else — a predetermined motion, sequencing of keystrokes or something not so easily duplicated. Until that happens, I wouldn’t hold my breath — or pose.

Amazon is quickly becoming the Donald Trump of retailing — gathering media attention with a series of announcements that may or may not be based in logic.

I’d actually expect Apple or some other mobile developer to come up with a working solution first.

Gajendra Ratnavel
BrainTrust

I suspect some really frustrated customers in the near future. This is great, but anything related to a camera is hit or miss, and depends on lighting and quality of the mobile device. Lots of variables.

Larry Negrich
BrainTrust

Until DNA validation is practical and affordable, I guess facial recognition will have to do. Of course when a retailer’s server is hacked and all credit card information is taken, how hard would it be for the criminal to also take the selfie file? Ah, progress.

William Hogben
BrainTrust

Seems like taking the long route for authentication — especially when compared with thumbprint for Apple Pay, or sending a verification message to a phone. I’m sure Amazon is looking more at creating a fun purchase experience than simply cutting down fraud. Using selfies to pay creates a data and marketing opportunity for Facebook etc.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Selfies are no slam dunk to add authentication and ease to payments. It’s one of many alternatives to passwords being tested. Passwords have their detractors and facial and voice recognition are more secure...."
"Once the young Millennials and Generation Z have this option, I can see this "selfie option" becoming a standard form of payment, especially in entertainment and shopping. But I wonder what will happen to the billions of drunk selfie photos used to pay bar tabs at 2 am?"
"Seems like taking the long route for authentication β€” especially when compared with thumbprint for Apple Pay, or sending a verification message to a phone. I’m sure Amazon is looking more at creating a fun purchase experience than simply cutting down fraud."

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