Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

Mastercard’s latest test would make credit cards obsolete by letting customers use their faces and finger prints to pay in stores

May 17, 2022, 8:09 PM UTC

Mastercard wants to do away with the actual credit cards by letting customers pay using their faces or hands.

The company is testing new biometric verification methods as part of a push towards doing business in the metaverse, Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard’s president of cyber and intelligence, told CNBC on Tuesday, referring to an as-of-yet unrealized assembly of virtual worlds where users will be able to work, play, and shop online.

Trials for the new payment options kicked off in Brazil today, with Mastercard collaborating with a Brazilian supermarket chain and Payface, a company that specializes in facial recognition software to enable digital payments. Additional tests are planned in the Middle East and Asia later this year.

“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,” Bhalla said in a statement.

Mastercard’s new technology will let customers complete transactions by either waving their hand over a scanner or smiling at a camera in stores where the service is enabled. The technology will ensure shorter waiting times at checkout, faster transactions, improved hygiene, and enhanced security, according to the company’s statement.

Mastercard ultimately envisions its system becoming “globally interoperable,” according to Bhalla, with customers able to access their profiles and payment details seamlessly anywhere in the world.

In 2014, Mastercard became one of the first credit card companies to experiment with replacing PIN codes with biometric identification markers and contactless technology. The company is now going a step further with the technology currently being tested. The company intends to store customers’ payment information in a secure database that can be easily retrieved and accessed by retailers through biometric markers, such as someone’s face or fingerprints, without having to use a credit card at all. 

Mastercard hopes that the tech will eventually form an important building block of the metaverse. More advanced biometrics technology will be essential to verifying transactions in this digital future world, and Mastercard is laying claim to what might become an essential piece of this infrastructure. Bhalla said that the company even intends to link stored payment profiles with users’ individual non-fungible tokens (NFTS)—digital assets that act as a record of ownership online.

The new biometric technology is just the latest example of Mastercard establishing itself in the burgeoning metaverse world. 

In April, the company filed 15 non fungible token (NFT) and metaverse trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filings revealed potential plans for processing payments in the metaverse, adding Mastercard’s name to events being hosted in the virtual world, and building new e-commerce software that would allow Mastercard users to perform transactions in the metaverse.

In February, Mastercard announced 500 new hires that would consult with the company on cryptocurrency transactions, NFTs, and financial activities related to the metaverse.

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