Mastercard Unveils Biometric Checkout System that Lets You Pay With a Smile


Mastercard wants to let you pay for the things in stores with a smile or a wave using its new Biometric Checkout Program, the credit card company said in a press release Tuesday. 

“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 of Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard. 

The company said it has established a set of standards for banks, merchants and technology providers to comply with that ensures the private data of consumers using the service is properly secured.

Privacy advocates have long been wary of companies processing consumers’ biometric data, especially when facial recognition is involved. The primary concern is that collecting biometric data like a person’s face or fingerprint puts their privacy at risk because that data is unique, unalterable and identifiable. 

Several states, including Illinois, have enacted laws regulating the use of biometrics, lawmakers have proposed federal legislation banning the use of facial recognition and lawsuits have been brought against companies like Google for violating biometric privacy laws. Earlier this year, the IRS began allowing taxpayers to opt out of facial recognition after backlash over its use of to verify taxpayers’ identities.  

The experimental biometric payment process is being piloted starting this week at five supermarkets in São Paulo, Brazil. Mastercard said future pilots are being planned for Asia and the Middle East. 

Mastercard said that while the company is focusing on piloting the program in early-adopter markets, the US is part of its near-term plan and has had encouraging conversations with potential partners. 


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