MasterCard Introduces Payment Confirmation through Selfie

April 20, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. verification / ˌvɛr ə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n.) – proof that something is true or correct
Example: He was asked for his signature as verification for his purchase.

2. identity fraud / aɪˈdɛn tɪ ti frɔd / (n.) – the act of using stolen personal information for gain
Example: The criminal committed identity fraud by using the details he found on the victim’s ID.

3. supplement / ˈsʌp ləˌmɛnt / (v.) – to add to something in order to make it complete
Example: Fingerprints supplement other personal data in a complete registration form.

4. prompt / prɒmpt / (v.) – to be asked to do something, usually by a computer program
Example: The new user of the website was prompted to type her password twice.

5. apprehension / ˌæp rɪˈhɛn ʃən / (n.) – worry or fear directed towards something
Example: Older people usually have apprehensions about new technology.


Read the text below.
MasterCard is about to launch a new payment verification system that would allow its cardholders to confirm online purchases by taking a selfie.

MasterCard’s enterprise security solutions president Ajay Bhalla said that the company will launch the new system to battle identity fraud. According to him, using facial scanning is safer and easier than typing passwords and PINs, as some cardholders use passwords that are easy to guess.

However, the new system will not totally replace passwords and PIN codes; it will only supplement password verification for stronger security.

To verify a purchase through facial scanning, cardholders must download MasterCard’s Identity Check app. Every time an online purchase is made, the app would prompt a cardholder to take a photo. While taking the photo, the app would ask the user to blink once. This is to prevent thieves from being able to fool the system using a photo of the user.

The photo taken would be translated into a code. This would be compared to a code stored in MasterCard’s system from the user photo taken upon registration to the system. Bhalla assures that the user’s photo itself would not be stored in MasterCard’s system.

The new system will be launched in the United States, Canada, and some European countries in the coming months.

While it is very promising, many still have apprehensions about its security. For instance, it is speculated that thieves may fool the system using videos of a cardholder’s face. They may also find a way to hack the system to access the database containing the codes.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Given the chance, would you subscribe to the selfie verification system? Why or why not?
·         Aside from the method mentioned in the article, what are other possible ways to deceive the facial scanning system?

Discussion B

·         Which do you think is safer: personal transactions or online transactions? Why?
·         What are the possible ways of making an online system more secure? Explain.

April 20, 2016