Mastercard Inc. says the future of payments at the point of sale includes the ability to make a point-of-sale payment using a facial image without having to present a credit or debit card or a mobile device. Under its new Biometric Checkout Program, Mastercard has begun testing the service, the card giant announced Tuesday.
“Participants in Mastercard’s Biometric Checkout Program offer consumers the option to conveniently enroll into their biometric checkout services, in store or at home, through a merchant or identity-provider app. Once enrolled, there is no need to slow down the checkout queue searching through their pockets or bag. Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay,” Mastercard says in a release.
Mastercard says merchants will benefit from faster transaction times, potentially shorter lines, and security. Integration with loyalty programs and personalized recommendations are possible, too. The Biometric Checkout Program outlines a set of standards for participating banks, merchants, and technology providers that Mastercard says will help ensure the security and privacy of personal data.
The program has several partners, including: Payface, a Brazil-based fintech specializing in facial-
recognition technology; PopID and PayByFace, also facial-recognition providers; information-technology firms NEC and Fujitsu Ltd.; and payments platform Aurus.
The first test of the program is in Brazil, with fintech Payface’s technology installed in five of grocer St Marche’s supermarkets. Mastercard says customers will be able to enroll their faces and payment information via the Payface app, and “once registered, they can simply smile to pay at the checkout without a card or mobile device.” Future tests are planned for the Middle East and Asia, with a test possible in the United States.
“The U.S. is part of our near-term plan and we’ve had encouraging conversations with potential partners,” a Mastercard spokesperson tells Digital Transactions News in an email. “For now, we’re focusing on pilots in early-adopter markets, including Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific. We’ll share more on that when we can.” The program may include palm recognition, too. A palm sensor could capture the consumer’s biometric, the spokesperson says.
Mastercard says consumers are open to trying new ways to pay, citing the further adoption of contactless payments in the past two years as one example. Ninety-three percent of global consumers are considering using an emerging payment method in 2022, according to the Mastercard New Payments Index-Global 2021 report.
Such biometric payment services are rare but not new. Amazon.com Inc. launched Amazon One, a palm-based payment service in 2020 and now offers it in 63 locations, according to the Amazon One Web site. And, in the mid-2000s, a technology company called Pay By Touch offered a fingerprint-based payment service that was in as many as 600 stores, only to cease operations in 2008.