EDITORIAL: Is Selfie Pay coming to Europe this summer?

This editorial was first released on Monday 29th February. Contactless Intelligence Weekly News Review Editorial – Week 09, 2016:

MasterCard’s facial recognition payment option, known as Selfie Pay, is expanding beyond tests in the U.S. and Netherlands, with MasterCard announcing its plans to roll out the option in the U.K., according to a Financial Times report. This technology enables consumers to use their fingerprints or a photo of themselves to validate their identity and was created for online purchases and as an alternative to passwords.

The confirmed launch of the service (mid 2016) follows a successful pilot in the Netherlands that resulted in nine out of ten participants deciding that they would definitely like to replace their password with biometric identification. After the completion of the pilot, which was launched in August 2015 by the payment network in partnership with International Card Services and Dutch bank ABN Amro, 77% of the 750 participating cardholders indicated that they want to continue using a fingerprint or facial recognition to complete payments and 75% of users are convinced that biometric payments will decrease fraud. Of those surveyed, 95% of the fingerprint users and 80% of the facial recognition users indicated that shopping became more convenient using biometric authentication.

“We are now examining the possibilities to integrate our technology in the banking and tech giants’ apps to make payment using a selfie or fingerprint even easier. The Dutch consumer is very progressive in embracing new technologies.,” said Arjan Bol, country manager of MasterCard Netherlands. “The UK is one of the most sophisticated markets for payments technology in the world. British consumers are incredibly tech savvy and love their mobiles and using contactless. Couple that with the infrastructure and the UK offers the perfect environment. If you look at Apple Pay for instance, it’s no coincidence that it came to the UK first after its native market launch,” said another MasterCard spokesperson at last weeks MWC.

The release comes amid an increased interest in biometric security, with HSBC and First Direct announcing the roll-out of their voice biometric security tech in the UK just last week. Startups such as Atom Bank are also introducing biometric technology. Others, such as B-Secur are seeking to license ECG technology for biometric authentication.

PayPal have also been making a series of announcements over the last few weeks in how they intend to further their mobile money strategy through a series of third-party partnerships. First it was reported that PayPal had teamed up with Vodafone in Europe to enable Vodafone Wallet users to use those wallets in-store at places that accept NFC payments: retail locations, stores and restaurants. The partnership makes it possible for PayPal users to use contactless payments for goods and services at the point of sale, too.

The rollout began in Spain (during MWC – of course), giving every Spanish Vodafone subscriber the ability to integrate PayPal into their mobile wallet to pay in-store via NFC. PayPal also announced that it would be adding NFC payments capabilities to its app, starting with customers in the U.S. and Australia this spring. The digital payments company also announced that PayPal and M-Pesa are teaming up to enable the automatic deposit of remittances into Kenyans’ M-Pesa accounts via Xoom. And finally, PayPal announced it is now working with telecom providers in Mexico (Telcel) and Brazil (Claro) on their digital wallets to help their more than 140 million active users manage and make purchases via mobile devices.

These announcements are quite a change of tack for PayPal. Who can remember that back in 2012, John Donahoe, then the CEO of PayPal’s then-parent company, eBay, was reported as saying that NFC stood for “not for commerce”? And PayPal’s then-president, David Marcus, writing in a blog post that “The NFC payments debate will slowly die in 2013”? Now it would appear that PayPal is looking to become more of an agnostic service for companies and customers and doing so by supporting contactless payments in the PayPal app for Android makes sense – if consumers want to tap their phone and pay, now they can do so through PayPal.

Samsung also reported last week that in its first six months of operation, Samsung Pay has reached five million users and has processed more than 500 million in transactions since its launch in South Korea and the US. The company says it now supports eligible credit and debit cards from more than 70 major and regional banks in South Korea and the US.

Global rollout will begin next month, as the company introduces Samsung Pay in China. This will bring the firm head-to-head with Apple, which made its debut in China last week, alongside local tech giants Alibaba and TenCent. “Other markets set for roll out include Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Spain and the UK “later in the year. Canada has also been added to the launch roadmap,” says InJong Rhee, EVP and head of R&D, software and services of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics. Samsung Pay is due to come to the UK in 2016 alongside the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

Finally, we come full circle back to biometric authentication on the mobile. At this years Contactless Intelligence Conference we are looking forward to hearing from a company called YOTI who are about to unveil their mobile ID solution. A solution that involves – yes – a selfie and verification and authentication via biometric matching software to your passport photograph. If we are really about to enter an age where biometric, mobile-driven authentication is going to be THE way to verify who you are then I really want to hear what they have to say – and so should you. For those of you who want to know more about innovate payment solutions and the trends in the world of standardisation and Mobile ID, we recommend you book your ticket to the upcoming Contactless Intelligence Conference & Forums (April 26-27, London) as soon as possible while prices are low.

Steve Atkins
Contactless Intelligence

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Categories: biometrics, Editorial

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