Amazon may allow payments via a selfie

Woman Selfie Amazon

Ordering an item from online retail giant Amazon could get a whole load easier, after the company filed a patent for a payment method which uses selfies as verification.

The company, which is based in Seattle, America, filed the application for a patent on using facial recognition technology last October, but it has only just been published.

It would work by customers taking two photos of themselves – selfies – in order to prove their identity. Customers will take one photo to prove their identity to Amazon, before following the subsequent online instructions to prove they are a human, such as winking, smiling, or moving their head. The use of selfies would be instead of typing in a password.

The ‘selfie pay’ system is seen as being more secure than the conventional password system, and also more secure than most other facial recognition programs, which can be often be tricked if someone holds a photograph of a user in front of the camera. Unlike with normal passwords, which can be stolen, nobody can steal your face – but hackers have been known to use pictures to fool facial recognition software.

In its application to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Amazon said: “While many conventional approaches rely on password entry for user authentication, these passwords can be stolen or discovered by other persons who can impersonate the user for any of a variety of tasks.”

“In order to avoid typing in long passwords in such situations, users often have their passwords stored on their devices or enable information to be stored elsewhere such that an activity can be performed without manually re-entering the password.”

“When using such an approach, however, another person having access to that device can impersonate the user for any task associated with the store password.”

Who knows how long it will be before we see the use of selfies to verify an online purchase, but it is a highly intriguing prospect, and it could help to improve cyber security.