How A Selfie Is Tied To Your Bank Account

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
The power of the selfie knows no bounds. First, it made Kim Kardashian famous. Then, it took over your news feed (whether you chose to partake or not). Now, its evolution into a power player is complete: Amazon just filed a patent application for paying via selfie. In the application, the company presents the method as a security tool: it will require buyers to take a picture of themselves when paying instead of keying in a password. In addition to facial recognition software to confirm the buyer's identity, the patent explains that the device will ask users to perform an action such as smiling to confirm they're an actual human and not a photo. This two-step verification process is similar to one that you might be used to using now, at sites that ask you to type in your password followed by the numerical code sent to your phone or email address. Amazon isn't actually the first to propose this idea. Last month, we also saw that MasterCard is playing with the idea of using selfies instead of password style two-factor authentication. While written passwords leave much to be desired in terms of safety (remember the Target breach?), Amazon's reasoning for paying via photo seems like a bit of a stretch. The company claims that "the entry of these passwords on portable devices is not user friendly in many cases, as the small touchscreen or keyboard elements can be difficult to accurately select using a relatively large human finger, and can require the user to turn away from friends or coworkers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations." If the speed that most people text is any indication, typing in a password on your phone isn't as hard as the company makes out (our fingers aren't that big). And how many people do you know who turn away from their friends when signing in to their bank account? Dubious reasoning aside, if Amazon is able to make the method a reality, buying things could get a lot more interesting (and hilarious). Either way, it doesn't look like generation selfie is disappearing anytime soon.

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