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Student News

You can now pay for stuff online with a selfie

Hate having to remember passwords when you’re on the go? You can now pay for online purchases with a selfie if you have this app! But is it really safe?
selfie banking appCredit: Petras Gagilas – Flickr
Mastercard have just announced that cardholders will be able to opt for facial recognition or fingerprints instead of passwords in order to validate online purchases.

After successful trials in the Netherlands, the US and Canada, Mastercard will now start rolling out this biometric authentication technology – which is now being dubbed ‘selfie pay’ – in the UK, as well as a few other countries in Europe.

Mastercard are calling this development a ‘significant milestone’ in the evolution of online payments. But is it really safer than using passwords, or is this technology just for kicks?

Research has shown that online fraud against students is on the rise – here's what you can do to protect yourself.

Is it really secure?

Dial of a bank safeIt seems that security experts are a bit torn on whether selfie recognition on online payments is a good idea or not.

According to the Independent, some say this technology has the potential to reduce online fraud substantially (83% said it was more secure than passwords) whilst others argue that they’re not as secure as traditional methods.

If you’re thinking it would be easy to trick the technology by holding up a photograph to the camera, you’d be wrong – developers have tackled this issue by requiring users to blink once during authentication so the app knows it’s a real person on the other side of the camera.

Security aside, selfie recognition has been really popular during testing periods. Mastercard have been testing the software in the US, Canada and the Netherlands for a while now, and say that 92% of those taking part said they preferred facial recognition to other methods. Although, who wouldn't prefer a selfie opportunity over entering a password, right?

Apparently, as many as 1 in 5 people use the same password for everything online, and 58% just use a slight variation across the board. If you're one of these people – let us introduce to the wonder that is Lastpass! 

How to start using selfie recognition

selfieIt's still a bit unclear as to which student bank account holders will be allowed to use selfie pay with Mastercard, but we'll be sure to let you know as soon as we do.

In order to start using the facial recognition technology, you need to download Mastercard’s new Identity Check Mobile app, which first authorises using a fingerprint or a photo of your charming face, surprisingly enough.

The app will then use this photo to make a digital map of your face, which will then be used as your template for selfie recognition when you next want to make an online purchase – so make sure you look vaguely as you would most days (avoid heavy make-up or accessories like hats or this is likely to cause problems - think of it like a passport photo).

Are you getting the best deal with your student bank account? Find out our top picks for 2016/2017 and which banks came out trumps in our banking survey.


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