If you thought using Apple Pay was easy, a Mastercard Biometric Checkout Program will let you pay simply by smiling at the payment terminal.

The company says that the initiative will be rolled out globally, starting with trials in Brazil …

Background

Banks and finance companies are understandably keen on using biometrics to authorize card payments. Payment fraud tripled to over $30B over the past decade, and the law in most countries leaves card companies on the hook for all or most of it.

Electronic wallet services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay cut risks for card companies, but also incur costs. Banks have for many years been trying to get access to the NFC chip in the iPhone and Apple Watch, so they can offer cardholders the option to use their own apps instead so far without success.

Even if they succeeded, it’s unlikely iPhone users would swap the convenience of an all-in-one app for a bunch of individual ones.

But if card networks like Mastercard and Visa can enable people to make biometric payments with even greater convenience than Apple Pay, they finally stand a chance of cutting Apple out of the loop.

Mastercard Biometric Checkout Program

Mastercard announced the program today.

No more fumbling for your phone or hunting for your wallet when you have your hands full – the next generation of in-person payments will only need a quick smile or wave of your hand. The trusted technology that uses your face or fingerprint to unlock your phone can now be used to help consumers speed through the checkout. With Mastercard’s new Biometric Checkout Program, all you will need is yourself […]

Once enrolled, there is no need to slow down the checkout queue searching through their pockets or bag. Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay. The new technology ensures a fast and secure checkout experience, whilst also empowering consumers to choose how they want to pay.

For merchants, the benefits are also considerable, from faster transaction times and shorter lines to greater hygiene and heightened security. The payments system can be integrated with loyalty programs and personalized recommendations to help consumers find products they might be interested in based on previous purchases.

The company says that enrollment will be easy, either in-store or at home using an app.

The initial pilot is a tiny one – operating at just five supermarkets in São Paolo, Brazil – but Mastercard plans to roll out the service globally.

Mastercard is working with partners including NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace, PopID and Fujitsu Limited to ensure the launch and scale of these types of new checkout capability around the globe

You can of course use Face ID on your iPhone to authorize an Apple Pay transaction, but what’s new here is that you can don’t need any device or card on you – your face alone authorizes the payment.

Would you switch from Apple Pay to smiling at a payment terminal? Let us know in the comments.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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