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Pay ‘with a smile or a wave’: Why Mastercard’s new face recognition payment system raises concerns

<p>Mastercard’s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“smile to pay”</a> system, announced last week, is supposed to save time for customers at checkouts. It is being trialled in Brazil, with future pilots planned for the Middle East and Asia.</p> <p>The company argues touch-less technology will help speed up transaction times, shorten lines in shops, heighten security and improve hygiene in businesses. But it raises concerns relating to customer privacy, data storage, crime risk and bias.</p> <p><strong>How will it work?</strong></p> <p>Mastercard’s biometric checkout system will provide customers facial recognition-based payments, by linking the biometric authentication systems of a number of third-party companies with Mastercard’s own payment systems.</p> <p>A Mastercard spokesperson told The Conversation it had already partnered with NEC, Payface, Aurus, Fujitsu Limited, PopID and PayByFace, with more providers to be named.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w,;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="The 'Fujitsu' logo in red is displayed on a building's side" /></a><figcaption><em><span class="caption">Mastercard has partnered with Fujitsu, a massive information and communications technology firm offering many different products and services.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p>They said “providers need to go through independent laboratory certification against the program criteria to be considered” – but details of these criteria aren’t yet publicly available.</p> <p>According to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">media</a> reports, customers will have to install an app which will take their picture and payment information. This information will be saved and stored on the third-party provider’s servers.</p> <p>At the checkout, the customer’s face will be matched with the stored data. And once their identity is verified, funds will be deducted automatically. The “wave” option is a bit of a trick: as the customer watches the camera while waving, the camera still scans their face – not their hand.</p> <p>Similar authentication technologies are used on smartphones (face ID) and in many airports around the world, including “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">smartgates</a>” in Australia.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">China</a> started using biometrics-based checkout technology back in 2017. But Mastercard is among the first to launch such a system in Western markets – competing with the “pay with your palm” <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">system</a> used at cashier-less Amazon Go and Whole Foods brick and mortars in the United States.</p> <p><strong>What we don’t know</strong></p> <p>Much about the precise functioning of Mastercard’s system isn’t clear. How accurate will the facial recognition be? Who will have access to the databases of biometric data?</p> <p>A Mastercard spokesperson told The Conversation customers’ data would be stored with the relevant biometric service provider in encrypted form, and removed when the customer “indicates they want to end their enrolment”. But how will the removal of data be enforced if Mastercard itself can’t access it?</p> <p>Obviously, privacy protection is a major concern, especially when there are many potential third-party providers involved.</p> <p>On the bright side, Mastercard’s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">customers</a> will have a choice as to whether or not they use the biometrics checkout system. However, it will be at retailers’ discretion whether they offer it, or whether they offer it exclusively as the only payment option.</p> <p>Similar face-recognition technologies used in airports, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by police</a>, often offer no choice.</p> <p>We can assume Mastercard and the biometrics provider with whom they partner will require customer consent, as per most privacy laws. But will customers know what they are consenting to?</p> <p>Ultimately, the biometric service providers Mastercard teams up with will decide how they use the data, for how long, where they store it, and who can access it. Mastercard will merely decide what providers are “good enough” to be accepted as partners, and the minimum standards they must adhere to.</p> <p>Customers who want the convenience of this checkout service will have to consent to all the related data and privacy terms. And as reports have noted, there is potential for Mastercard to integrate the feature with loyalty schemes and make personalised recommendations <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">based on purchases</a>.</p> <p><strong>Accuracy is a problem</strong></p> <p>While the accuracy of face recognition technologies has previously been challenged, the current <em>best</em> facial authentication algorithms have an error of just 0.08%, according to tests by the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">National Institute of Standards and Technology</a>. In some countries, even banks have <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">become comfortable</a> relying on it to log users into their accounts.</p> <p>Yet we can’t know how accurate the technologies used in Mastercard’s biometric checkout system will be. The algorithms underpinning a technology can work almost perfectly when trailed in a lab, but perform <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">poorly</a> in real life settings, where lighting, angles and other parameters are varied.</p> <p><strong>Bias is another problem</strong></p> <p>In a 2019 study, NIST <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that out of 189 facial recognition algorithms, the majority were biased. Specifically, they were less accurate on people from racial and ethnic minorities.</p> <p>Even if the technology has improved in the past few years, it’s not foolproof. And we don’t know the extent to which Mastercard’s system has overcome this challenge.</p> <p>If the software fails to recognise a customer at the check out, they might end up disappointed, or even become irate – which would completely undo any promise of speed or convenience.</p> <p>But if the technology misidentifies a person (for instance, John is recognised as Peter – or <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">twins are confused</a> for each other), then money could be taken from the wrong person’s account. How would such a situation be dealt with?</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset=";q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=617&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=617&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=617&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w,;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=776&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w,;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=776&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w,;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=776&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><em><span class="caption">There’s no evidence facial recognition technology is infallible. These systems can misidentify and also have biases.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Is the technology secure?</strong></p> <p>We often hear about software and databases being hacked, even in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cases of</a> supposedly very “secure” organisations. Despite Mastercard’s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">efforts</a> to ensure security, there’s no guarantee the third-party providers’ databases – with potentially millions of people’s biometric data – won’t be hacked.</p> <p>In the wrong hands, this data could lead to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">identity theft</a>, which is one of the fastest growing types of crime, and financial fraud.</p> <p><strong>Do we want it?</strong></p> <p>Mastercard suggests 74% of customers are in favour of using such technology, referencing a stat from its <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">own study</a> – also used by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">business partner</a> Idemia (a company that sells biometric identification products).</p> <p>But the report cited is vague and brief. Other studies show entirely different results. For example, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this study</a> suggests 69% of customers aren’t comfortable with face recognition tech being used in retail settings. And <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this one</a> shows only 16% trust such tech.</p> <p>Also, if consumers knew the risks the technology poses, the number of those willing to use it might drop even lower.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: --></p> <p><em><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rita Matulionyte</a>, Senior Lecturer in Law, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>


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Queensland couple mistakenly charged $15k for flights to Melbourne

<p dir="ltr">A couple looking forward to going on their much needed holiday have been instead wrongly charged $15,000.  </p> <p dir="ltr">Dennis and Pat Amor from Queensland were organising a trip to Melbourne to visit some family after two years of no flights thanks to the pandemic. </p> <p dir="ltr">The pair called Qantas to help book the tickets and provided their credit card details – but were instead informed that their booking was rejected.  </p> <p dir="ltr">Pat however revealed that their booking was in fact not rejected and that the Qantas staff member had instead processed it 15 times. </p> <p dir="ltr">"It's never declined and she apparently tried to push it over and over again,” she told <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Current Affair</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr">The horrified couple had to check with Mastercard to see what the issue was and were shocked to find they were charged 15 times for the flights.</p> <p dir="ltr">"They just said there was a bill of $15,000 on the card, being 15 transactions had gone through, so we were really flummoxed," Pat revealed. </p> <p dir="ltr">They tried to get in touch with Qantas once again and time after time were unable to get through.</p> <p dir="ltr">Eventually, a staff member got in touch who said they would sort it out with the finance team and call them later that day. They didn’t. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mastercard however has since returned $11,000 of the couple’s money – but at the time of writing, $4,000 remains outstanding. </p> <p dir="ltr">Qantas claims that the issue is with the Amor’s credit card and not with them, which Mastercard has refuted. </p> <p dir="ltr">To top it off, the upset couple were told they could not fly Qantas until the matter was resolved and were required to use leftover credit from Jetstar to book their tickets. </p> <p dir="ltr">"It doesn't seem fair to us. We are frustrated. We are angry."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: A Current Affair</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Coles shoppers fear scam after “ridiculous request” in email

<p>Thousands of Coles Mastercard shoppers feared the worst after being sent a “ridiculous” email from the supermarket, asking them to confirm their personal details.  </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong></strong></em></span></a> reports shoppers were sent an email asking for their credit card number, CCV number and PIN, which sounds like a typical scam.</p> <p>But what makes this case stranger, is it was completely legit.</p> <p>72-year-old Ann Brown, who first registered for her Coles Mastercard two years ago, <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>told</strong></em></span></a> that the email sent alarm bells ringing.</p> <p>"It was ridiculous," she said.</p> <p>"We see it on TV all the time - don't give out your personal information."</p> <p>Coles first launched the card through GE Money, but recently switched to Citibank. Now thousands of customers needed to re-register their online accounts.</p> <p>Nine Finance Editor Ross Greenwood said asking for a PIN was "really unusual".</p> <p>"It goes completely against what, normally, banks would ask you to do," he said.</p> <p>"It's not a scam, that's pretty obvious - but it's not smart administration to go against what is the normal security protocol that people are told."</p> <p>Coles and Citibank say the email was meant to "help customers through the transition".</p> <p>They added an assurance that the info is protected.</p> <p>But customers like Ms Brown might need more reassurance.</p> <p>"I am prepared now to cut up my card," she said.</p> <p>What are your thoughts?</p>


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The safer way to manage money overseas

<p>Gone are the days where the smartest way to manage money overseas was stashing a handful of cash and traveller’s cheques and hoping for the best.</p> <p>Today’s travellers have to be smarter with the way they manage money.</p> <p>The good news? With travel money cards it’s much easier to do so. Once you look at the benefits of this prepaid travel card, you’re sure to agree.  </p> <p><strong>1. Load multiple currencies*</strong></p> <p>Travel money cards give you the opportunity to load in multiple currencies on the same card. On the <a href=";utm_medium=banner&amp;utm_campaign=mastercard" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Over60 Cash Passport™</span></strong></a> for example you can load up to 10 currencies on the one card (USD, EUR, GBP, NZD, THB, CAD, HKD, SGD, JPY and AUD). The Over60 Cash Passport is also smart enough to select the local currency for you based on where you are in the world, provided you have sufficient funds loaded in that available currency.</p> <p>To access your foreign currency, simply pay over the counter at retailers as you would with any other card, or withdraw money at millions of ATMs displaying the MasterCard® acceptance mark.</p> <p>For a limited time, for new customers who buy an Over60 Cash Passport you’ll receive a bonus $25 to spend on whatever you want. The offer is valid between 26th May to September 30th 2016** and all you have to do is load a minimum of $1,500 AUD in foreign currency and register online at to be eligible for your bonus. To sign up for an Over60 Cash Passport and redeem your $25 bonus <a href="" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">c</span><span style="text-decoration: underline;">lick here</span></strong></a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Lock in your exchange rate***</strong></p> <p>Making sure you’ve got the correct exchange rate locked in is important, and travellers often get stung having less money than they thought they did because they are lumped with an inferior exchange rate. The day you acquire your Over60 Cash Passport you lock-in your exchange rate<sup>***</sup>, so you know exactly how much foreign currency you’ll have for the course of your trip.</p> <p>This takes a significant amount of guesswork out of your spending overseas, and helps you avoid hidden exchange costs and international transaction fees that come if you’re making purchases with some of your everyday banking cards.</p> <p><strong>3. Safer and secure access to your money</strong></p> <p>Perhaps the biggest advantage of choosing to handle your holiday money with a travel money card like the Over60 Cash Passport is the fact that you’ll be confident your money is safer as the card is Chip and PIN protected and provides additional enhanced security.</p> <p>You can conveniently manage your money via “My Account” online, which allows you to reload and check your balance anywhere, anytime online.</p> <p>For these reasons and many more, the Over60 Cash Passport is a premium option in terms of figuring out which the best way to take your money is when you’re travelling overseas. So next time you’ve got a trip planned, consider the Over60 Cash Passport and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your trip is taken care of when you’re overseas.</p> <p>Have you tried using a travel money card? What’s your favourite method for managing money when you’re travelling overseas? Please let us know in the comments.</p> <p><em><strong>No matter where you’re travelling to, making sure you know how to access your cash while away – and in the most affordable way – is very important. Easy to use and with countless benefits, the Over60 Cash Passport allows you to securely access your cash in the same way you use an ATM or credit card. <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">To apply for an Over60 Cash Passport, click here.</span></a></strong></em></p> <p><em>*Before you make a decision to acquire the card, please check <strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href=""></a></span></strong> for the latest currencies supported.</em></p> <p><em>**For new customers only. For more information and full Terms and Conditions, go to <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></span>.</em></p> <p><em>***The prevailing exchange rate is locked in for the initial load value only. Subsequent card reloads will be processed at the then prevailing exchange rate on the day of the reload transaction.</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><a href="/travel/international-travel/2016/05/drone-photos-hong-kong-sprawling-cityscape/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>10 drone photos capture Hong Kong's sprawling cityscape</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><a href="/travel/travel-insurance/2016/04/traveller-accidentally-catches-wrong-flight/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Traveller accidentally catches wrong flight</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><a href="/travel/international-travel/2016/05/where-are-the-worlds-busiest-airports/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Where are the world's busiest airports?</strong></em></span></a></p>

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