Samsung Pay will add selfie payment - report

Monday 20 March 2017 | 14:05 CET | Background
Samsung’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, will use facial-recognition technology for mobile payments within months of release, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, who said the move will make it stand out among competitor’s such as Apple’s iPhone. While previous Galaxy phones have allowed users to unlock their phones with facial recognition, the S8 would be the first to use the technology to verify financial payment applications.

The smartphone, which will be unveiled later this month, will combine fingerprint, iris and facial detection to verify users accessing mobile services including Samsung Pay. The company is already working with banks to help them embrace facial recognition systems in coming months, the sources said. Samsung declined to comment.

Samsung gave the payment features a prominent role when it launched the S7 in March 2016. While based on Android and global payment standards, Samsung Pay is a separate service that uses an embedded Secure Element in the phone for safe keeping the card credentials.
Samsung has also given the payment function a prominent place in the UI. The S7 uses finger print recognition as primary authentication, in addition to the PIN code. 

The Note7, launched (and withdrawn) in 2016, already added iris recognition to that. When tested, this feature however showed limitations in its usefulness. The phone would store only one set of iris images and the feature proved to be sensitive to light conditions. Low light or very bright light hampered the scanner, while (sun) glasses blocked the function entirely.

Expanding the scan to a full face therefore seems a way to improve the user experience. As the next flagship model to be launched, the S8 will benefit from several months of additional software development. 

Following on Korea and the US, Samsung has launched the Samsung Pay service in several markets since the announcement last year, including Malaysia, Russia and Thailand. Card networks and banks however can look into Android Pay, which is not limited to a select number of Android handsets, but available on a far broader range of devices. 

When the feature proves successful, Samsung will not be the only manufacturer to benefit from it. In response to the selfie trend, many other OEM’s put a better front camera in their phones, while running the facial recognition software is not too burdensome. 

The card networks such as Visa and MasterCard support facial recognition for several reasons. Biometric authentication in combination with PIN code adds a layer of security and can help mitigate fraud. Furthermore, it fits their strategy of innovating payment methods and bringing card payment to new devices, form factors and locations. In that case, the stand out feature will be no longer unique when the next phone comes along. 


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