It sounds like a bad SNL skit; a credit card company jumps on the selfie craze and makes it the password, possibly to try and cater to those selfie-obsessed kids. And while there’s precedent, MasterCard’s attempt to replace the password with the selfie is real, and it’s more in service of security than marketing.
The problem with current passwords is that human beings suck at picking secure ones. People use something easy for them to remember, like their birthday, not realizing this makes it easy to figure out what your password is with some basic information. So instead, MasterCard is developing facial recognition and fingerprint reading tools to serve as your password.
If this sounds rather obvious to get around, MasterCard’s solution is to make you blink while taking a selfie. Which raises the question of why, precisely, a video wouldn’t work, but we assume they’ve planned for that, as well. We’re also wondering just what happens to these selfies, which are presumably kept on file so the software can track changes in your face over time. How many photos of half-conscious commuters buying coffee and pajama-clad individuals buying cereal on a Saturday will they collect?
The main issue is that it’s not clear how ready these tools are for prime time. When Apple debuted Touch ID, it turned out to be unable to differentiate fingers from nipples, and this has been an ongoing problem for Apple.
Fortunately, MasterCard has other ideas, like scanning your iris and monitoring your heartbeat. But, for now, if you’d like to use your credit card with a selfie, keep an eye out. Banks working with MasterCard will be debuting the feature in a few months.