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Selfies could soon be replacing your bank password

By Simon Reynolds

February 23, 2016

Emails. Netflix accounts. iTunes login. Banking. There are far too many passwords to remember.

Mastercard is getting around this by introducing a new form of identification for its banking customers: the selfie.

The credit card company revealed at the annual Mobile World Congress that it’ll be launching a new Identity Check app this summer allowing users to identify themselves by submitting a selfie or fingerprint instead of a password.

Selfie ID will be spreading far and wide – as well as Britain and the US, participating countries include Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain and Germany.

A trial run is the US and Netherlands has already proven to be a hit, with 92% of participants saying they preferred the selfie method to entering a password, reports the BBC.

“We know the most commonly used password is 123456, so they are not secure, and people also use the same passwords for multiple sites.”

However, you’ll have to commit the cardinal selfie sin of blinking mid-photo to prove that a pre-existing photo hasn’t been used to complete the transaction.

Ajay Bhalla, head of Mastercard’s safety and security division, explained that selfiecentric banking is both customer-friendly and avoids putting their data at risk.

“Consumers hate passwords,” Bhalla said. “We know the most commonly used password is 123456. So they aren’t secure, and people also use the same passwords for multiple sites.

“If one site gets hacked, all the places that you use the same password get compromised – they’re a big pain.

“In the modern world, everyone has a mobile phone and there is internet connectivity everywhere. So, we should be able to use biometrics instead to authenticate ourselves.”

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay are already using fingerprints as authorisation for payments by reading vein patterns underneath customers’ fingers.

Selfies could well turn out to be the next step in cutting edge biometric scanning.