The news: Mastercard’s new Biometric Checkout Program brings facial and fingerprint recognition technology to the point-of-sale (POS), per a press release.
Here’s how it works: The program lets consumers link their facial and fingerprint biometrics to a payment card. Once enrolled in the system, customers can check out with their face or fingerprint, no cards or mobile phones necessary.
The program outlines standards that banks, merchants, and tech providers that want to participate in the program must abide by. Mastercard is working with several biometric and tech firms, including Payface and Fujitsu, to roll out the program. It kicked off a pilot in Brazil, where it is trialing the tech with Payface across five St Marche supermarket locations. Mastercard plans to launch similar pilots in the Middle East and Asia.
Why it matters: Biometric payments may be an answer to heightened demand for contactless payments and transaction security.
Biometrics can feed demand for contactless payments by letting consumers check out faster and with minimal effort while prioritizing security because it involves strong authentication.
Will it work? While biometric payments may be compelling for consumers who value security and frictionless commerce, it could be a hard sell for privacy-focused consumers who are reticent about sharing biometric information. Thirty-six percent of global respondents said they were at least somewhat uncomfortable with biometric payments—nearly split with those who said the opposite, per a Mastercard survey.
The big takeaway: Mastercard wants to be an early mover in the biometric space as sentiments for the technology improve. The rise in biometric payment cards—which Mastercard is already involved in—could ease consumers into the space and pave the way for facial recognition and fingerprint-based hardware to take off at the POS.
The Biometric Checkout Program also lets Mastercard ensure its card business isn’t cut out as biometric payments gain steam—linking consumers’ biometrics with their payment cards lets Mastercard rake in card volume even if a physical card isn’t present during the transaction.