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Forget ‘Tap to pay’, Mastercard wants you to wave or smile

But the contactless terminal won't wave back...

Contactless payments have never been easier. From a physical card that just needs a quick tap, to phones and watches that offer the same tap with added security, gone are the days of the PIN-pad. But for Mastercard, that’s not enough.

The payment giant has announced its new Biometric Checkout Program – a new payment infrastructure for biometric payments. Retailers signed up to the program will be able to offer more secure contactless payments, without the need for a card or device. Rather, all you’ll need is a smile or a wave.

Customers will be able to sign up for the Program via an app or in-store. While details haven’t been made clear, it looks like you’ll be giving biometric readings to a third-party partner, and linking them to a payment account with Mastercard. At payment, they’ll be able to simply “check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay”.

For retailers, things get a little more tricky. They’ll also have to register for the program, but they’ll need to be sent new gear for it to work. From Mastercard’s description, retailers will require a camera or hand sensor to authenticate a customer. Current till and payment machines don’t have these built-in, so retailers will need some shiny new gear. The payments company confirmed it is currently working with partners to make new equipment available in the future.

Right out the gate, this new system isn’t ready to go just yet. Currently, Mastercard is only testing the Program in a small pilot in Brazil (with only five shops involved). It’s likely to be a while before the new payment tech becomes widespread. The processing of biometric data does pose some questions on privacy and security. It’s likely Mastercard will further expand on these details, as it might be troublesome for some users.

Image from Naipo via Unsplash