I came across this announcement today. Apparently Master Card is applying biometrics in an attempt to make online shopping faster and safer. My impression of the current state of biometrics is that it is not great. Some technology may be considered reliable (a relative term in any case), but it is generally expensive, and typically consists of invasive things like retina scanning, which requires a person to physically lean close or right up to a specialized piece of equipment. General consumer technology like the fingerprint scanners on phones and the like are easily fooled, and may give a false sense of security.
So what is Master Card using? Well according to articles from biometricupdate.com and mobileworldlive, they’re experimenting with fingerprint scans and short video shots of faces (facial recognition) as replacements for passwords when authenticating payments. CNN Money has this video demonstrating the facial recognition solution.
The motivation behind this is to make security less of a hassle for customers, to keep them from abandoning purchases at the final step. I think this is an interesting and admirable effort, and the solutions seem pretty cool. A number of questions come to mind though: