SAO PAULO – Visa and Brazil’s Neon bank launched on Thursday an online service that allows consumers to use selfies to confirm their identities for online purchases.
Authentication of identity by facial recognition, which has been in use for almost a year by the 100 percent digital bank’s customers for their transactions, will now be applied to Internet purchases with a 99.5 percent ID precision, according to Fernando Teles, the general director of Visa Brasil.
“The selfie is a form of authentication that is more convenient for a financial transaction or payment. We’re working with certain customers to improve the experience, but the selfie improves that experience for the final user,” Percival Jatoba, Visa Brasil’s vice president for products, told EFE.
Using selfies will not replace using the traditional PIN numbers or fingerprints for physical purchases.
“The discussion is less technological and more focused on how to help the consumer,” Jatoba said.
During the process of opening a bank account and acquiring a bank card, the user sends a photo of their identity document, registers a numeric password and their fingerprint, along with taking a selfie to provide initial facial recognition.
At the point of making an online purchase, the security and authentication service asks for a selfie from the buyer’s cellphone which will have to be taken immediately to guarantee it’s in real time, and it will then be compared with the document photo. If everything matches, then the purchase can be made or the account opened.
The commercial establishment and the users themselves do not receive the selfies taken during the purchasing process, which are transmitted encrypted to a databank at the banking institution.
“We always wanted to combine security with convenience, but sometimes those processes of security authentication are not pleasant to do and the biometrics, involving your face, your eyes, your finger, was the perfect combination,” Banco Neon president Pedro Conrade told EFE.
The 25-year-old executive said that using selfies as an authentication tool “has great potential to revolutionize the way in which people deal with security in financial transactions.”
Fernando Mendez, the vice president of emerging products for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, said this new service will facilitate “remote payments” and be in sync with “consumer trends” in the region, which are growing “at a faster rate than conventional transactions.”
Because of the “booming dynamism” of Latin America, Jatoba said that “very quickly” we will see this type of authentication in countries other than Brazil, along with other biometric ID mechanisms, including – for example – a person’s heartbeat.
He said that the impact on reducing fraud in e-transactions and digital banking by using selfies still has not been calculated “but we think that with this new (method) we’re going to stimulate commerce and ... have an increase in the number of transactions.”
The process only takes place when the commercial establishment says that it is necessary to ask for verification of a credit card user’s ID to be able to complete a transaction.