Mastercard to allow people to pay at tills with just a smile – prompting fears about facial data

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 18 May 2022 16:33
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Some 69% of millennials have made lifestyle changes to deal with the crisis (Ben Birchall/PA)
Some 69% of millennials have made lifestyle changes to deal with the crisis (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mastercard will let people pay with just a smile as part of a “new era” for the payment company.

Customers will no longer have to fumble for their phone or their card, it says – instead they will just look at the till, let it scan their face, and have the payment compete.

Mastercard says the plan, known as the ‘Biometric Checkout Program’, will make life easier for its customers. It pointed to research that showed 74 per cent of customers have a positive attitude to such biometric technology.

“The way we pay needs to keep pace with the way we live, work and do business, offering choice to consumers with the highest levels of security,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, cyber & intelligence at mastercard. “Our goal with this new program is to make shopping a great experience for consumers and merchants alike, providing the best of both security and convenience.”

But it is likely to be met by opposition from privacy and human rights groups who object to the vast amount of personal data that is being collected by companies.

Facial recognition technology is increasingly used across a variety of different areas and experts warn that the information collected through it invades people privacy and could be used to withhold people’s rights.

In the new tests, users will enroll their face at home through an app. Once they are set up, they will just look at the till and smile or wave their hand, with the checkout completing once they do.

Mastercard stressed that the feature will not only make checking out easier but that it could also be safer, especially in the context of the coronavirus outbreak and other pandemics.

The feature is initially being tested in a very small trial in Brazil. But the company is working on a broader rollout, it said.

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