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Amazon leads patent battle for facial-recognition in payment software

Source: ibtimes, by: Anne Lu


Internet multimedia giant Amazon has filed for a patent that will allow its millions of customers to pay for their online purchases through a selfie instead of the usual, but more cumbersome, password. Though the process itself is an innovation that requires development and implementation, Amazon’s venture is not the first, making its application for the patent a race to be the first in creating a business platform for the facial-recognition-as-payment software.

According to ABC News, the need to make e-commerce safer, more secure, and ultimately easier prompted Amazon’s move. In the selfie-as-payment method, the user would just have to take a self-portrait through their device and send it to the store. To increase levels of security, the computer at the other end would ask the user to perform certain actions such as tilting their head, smiling or blinking. The transaction is then completed in minutes. This allegedly provides a more secure electronic pathway than the usual input of usernames and passwords, which hackers can easily circumvent to access user data.

Another inconvenience in the usual password-as-protection method is the multiplicity of effort it requires if the user has several devices like a smartphone or a tablet. Inputting usernames and passwords on several machines can take time. It can also become confusing, if the user decides to use different sets of usernames and passwords in different devices.

Fortune reports that other companies have started experimenting for their own selfie-as-payment method can further push Amazon into speeding up the process. Alibaba, the Chinese’s own mega-version of Google, is doing research on a version that would let a facial image on a screen complete a payment. USAA, a financial services organisation for members of the US Armed Forces and their families, has actually begun using selfies as a way to log-in to member-only sites.

MasterCard may be way ahead of Amazon in rolling out its selfie-as-payment platform, according to CBC News. Pilot programs are currently being tested in the US and Netherlands. A MasterCard owner can make an online transaction by taking a photo of themselves instead of punching in a password. Another option is to press their fingerprint on the screen. If the tests are successful, MasterCard will launch the first prototypes in Canada in summer of this year.

Worldpay, the British payment processing company, has not done away with the typing of a PIN number completely. NFC World describes the tests that it is currently conducting in groceries and department stores: An online purchaser still has to type a username or a PIN number on a terminal while looking at a camera. Worldpay then matches the face with a biometric template that is embedded in their credit card before allowing payment.

The success of the selfie-as-payment method can actually encourage more smartphone and tablet users averse to doing e-commerce online to make transactions while they are mobile because of the enhanced security. If granted the patent, the backing by a formidable organisation like Amazon can allay the last of the concerns of the user. What would further boost the experience are clear screens that show sharp images, network extenders that can increase the cell singles even in remote areas or densely populated buildings, and probably an app or two that can take note of transactions once the user starts becoming familiar with online payments.

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Author: grill-ip

Grill IP is a non-profit project for educational and entertaining purposes only. Our aim is to provide quick and easy access to aggregated and original patent news, IP analysis, interesting business cases in IP, basic legal updates and a list of patent transactions.

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