Amazon has filed a patent application to allow users to pay for items by taking a selfie.
The firm argues the move would improve people’s security as they carry out more and more tasks online.
“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,” the application states.
“Further, 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 co-workers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations.”
Amazon said the “selfie pay” option would also be safer than using facial recognition software, because this “can often be spoofed by holding a picture of the user in front of the camera, as the resulting two-dimensional image can look substantially the same whether taken of the user or a picture of the user”.
In order for users to pay for items using this method, they would need to take a selfie to confirm their identity, and then take another photo that confirms “the person contained in the first image corresponds to a physical being in proximity of the computing device”.
This could include people smiling, blinking, or tilting their head, the application said.
The application was filed last October, but was only published recently.
MasterCard has already trialled a new technology that would allow customers to pay online by taking a selfie rather than entering a password.
The pilot was limited to 500 customers who were asked to snap a photograph of their face instead of typing in their own personal code when paying using their smartphone.