Selfie security – more than just a pretty face?

The selfie is now a worldwide phenomenon.

In 2013, it was even named Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year. Today, it remains just as popular and it’s clear this craze isn’t going away.

As a consequence, businesses are starting to explore how they can take advantage of this trend. For example, fashion retailer Urban Hilton Weiner has used it as an advertising tool, offering customers coupons for tweeting a selfie while wearing the clothes.  

However, and more importantly, several companies have also begun experimenting with facial recognition to bolster financial security.

Payment systems with photo security

Chinese retail giant Alibaba recently showcased a smartphone payment system that uses this technology as a security method. This works by the user taking a picture of themselves using the phone’s forward facing camera. The app would then allow a payment to be processed if the photo taken matched a chosen photo taken by the user at the time of installation.

The technology’s potential to reduce fraudulent activity and increase consumer confidence could also have a significant impact on the financial services industry.

According to research by financial institution ING, security concerns remain the number one barrier to greater adoption of mobile and digital banking. Our own research highlights that over half (51 per cent) of UK banking customers expect their bank to introduce more innovative security measures.

Biometrics and authentication

Many providers have already been addressing this issue by exploring the use of biometrics for authentication purposes. For example, HSBC has introduced iris scanners and Barclays has even been experimenting with voice verification.

The reason biometrics are proving increasingly popular is because they fit in around the way in which consumers like to use their devices. The massive popularity of the selfie presents banks with a big incentive to assess how facial recognition technology can be used in the authentication process.

facial recgonition and the future of cyber-security

Banks across the pond have already begun to take advantage of this trend. US financial institution USAA recently deployed a full-scale rollout of facial and voice recognition technology. Customers can now access the organisation’s app with a tap of their smartphone camera and a blink when they’re prompted, in order to prove they’re a live person and not just a cut-out or photo. Adoption of the new features has been impressive, with over 100,000 USAA customers using the updated app to date.

Like it or not, it seems the selfie is here to stay – UK banks should therefore now ensure they also capitalise on the trend, exploring how facial recognition can be used to balance client convenience and cyber-security.