34: MasterCard Discuss Biometric Payments

Apr 10, 2016

Today I’m delighted to be talking with Catherine Murchie who is the senior vice president of processing work and enterprise security solutions at Mastercard.

Could you tell us a little more about yourself and your role at Mastercard?

I help support the roll out of our security solutions that cover the physical environment and both the digital environments. It also looks at how we support authentication with a very significant focus on the consumer experience.

I must confess that handling silver coins to pay for things feels quite primitive now.  I do think we struggle with too many passwords and the security implications of writing them all down. Are these big drivers for biometric payments?

These are some big drivers for biometric payments. Passwords can be very challenging because we have so many of them. You have passwords for computers, phones, online accounts, online banking and because we have so many of them we’re then starting to adapt to unsafe behavior which is writing them down and putting them on post it notes and making very simple passwords.

What is Mastercard working on in this area? For example as a typical card holder what form of biometric authentication is heading their way?

We’re introducing a mobile app called Mastercard Identity Check. Consumers can sign up through their bank or credit union and then use their fingerprint or facial scan to verify their identity when they are making a digital payment. That’s not the only thing that’s coming down the road. There’s voice recognition, iris scans and even heartbeat monitoring and these are all the types of biometrics that are under development today.

In February this year Dutch participants of the first world-wide pilot by Mastercard actually preferred biometric payments. Can you tell me a little about this pilot and any feedback you obtained from those users?

Sure. The pilot was conducted with ABN AMRO, their consumer cardholders. It was a relatively small pilot with around 750 of their consumer cardholders over the course of about six months. The feedback was very positive from the trial. Nine out of ten participants said that they would like to replace passwords with some type of biometric identification.

That is high isn’t it?

It is high and think about the challenge we were talking about earlier with passwords. It’s not surprising because being able to use a part of yourself, your face or your fingerprint, as your password or in place of your password would be something that consumers would like.

Would it also increase security and combat fraud? Do you have any facts around just how much secure biometric authentication is over that four digit pin?

The strength of security is in the layers. You overlay it. So you have pin and password work together and will continue to protect transactions. They will still be here. But when you have a smartphone and you have a password on the smartphone and you have identity check, a biometric feature of the fingerprint or facial recognition. Also too identity check includes the ability to come at that biometric to the actual device that you’re using so you can’t use your biometric with another device. All of these provide the layers of security together.

If you’re authenticating through facial recognition can you advise how this technology will know the difference between let’s say your face and somebody holding a picture or video of you?

In terms of being able to imitate someone else either by holding up a picture or some type of video the app requires users to blink when you’re taking the selfie to ensure that a photograph isn’t being used so there’s a proof of life outlet there. Let’s say someone tries to use a video to imitate someone else. There are depth of field elements that are taken as part of the set of features that are identified when you’re signing on and when you’re providing it so they ensure that even if you’re trying to use a video of someone you can’t validate the person through that method.

Many of our listeners are scattered all over the world. Could you advise how you’re planning to roll out this biometric technology across the globe and when users can expect to be paying for items with selfies or through fingerprints or through their voice?

We’re starting to roll it out in the U.K, the U.S and Canada. Those are the first three countries that we’re rolling it out in this summer. Some can expect to start using it in the next couple of months. We’ve got a pilot in Canada today through the Bank of Montreal where they have a pilot with their employees who are using it for commercial card transactions. And they will also be rolling it out more broadly in the summer as well.


What’s the best way for listeners to keep up with future developments at Mastercard and where you’re heading and when those summer roll-outs are going to commence?

Your listeners can go to the Mastercard engagement bureau and that’s at www.mastercard.com. They can also sign up to follow us on Facebook or Google or Twitter or even LinkedIn.


podcastitunesbutton subscribe-stitcher-button  tunein-buttonRSS11email

No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *