Amazon will soon accept mobile payments using selfies instead of passwords

15 Mar 2016

Amazon has just filed a patent to allow shoppers to confirm purchases by taking a photo or video of themselves

E-commerce juggernaut Amazon is planning to secure mobile commerce purchases via tablets and smartphones using selfies. The company has just filed a patent to allow shoppers to confirm purchases by taking a photo or video of themselves.

Amazon has filed a patent application for technology that will allow users to authenticate a payment using a photo or video in a seamless way that doesn’t necessarily require passwords.

“The user is identified using image information which is processed utilising facial recognition. The device verifies that the image information corresponds to a living human using one or more human-verification processes,” the patent reads.

It appears from Amazon’s patent application that the technology involves using head-tracking technologies so the biometric security can’t be spoofed by holding a photo or video up to a device.

Selfie payments are already rolling out in Europe

This is very similar to what MasterCard is rolling out this summer in the UK, US, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

In MasterCard’s case, to prove the person is real and it’s not just a photo, the person will be asked to blink into their camera while taking the selfie.

MasterCard’s selfie security platform kicks in when further authentication is required and will ask users to look at their phone’s camera or use the phone’s fingerprint sensor to verify their identity rather than using a password that can be forgotten or stolen.

One of the first countries to experience the new MasterCard technology was the Netherlands where Dutch consumers are open to biometrics instead of passwords.

Some 750 ABN AMRO cardholders used biometric-like selfies and fingerprint payments for the past six months without passwords or confirmation codes.

75pc opted to continue using the technology after the trial ended. 95pc of the fingerprint users and 80pc of the facial recognition users indicated that shopping became more convenient using biometric authentication.

Selfie image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years