MasterCard to invest US$20m in cybersecurity, launch biometric pilot
13 February 2015 09:42 GMT

The pilot will use a combination of biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching.

Global payments giant MasterCard has announced that it will launch a biometric pilot with a major US credit union as part of a $20 million investment in cybersecurity efforts.

Later this year, MasterCard will launch a biometric project with First Tech Federal Credit Union. The pilot program will enable consumers to authenticate and verify their transactions using a combination of biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching.

“This initial test has the potential to deliver greater security to US cardholders without compromising the ease and convenience Americans have come to expect today when using their credit and debit cards”, said MasterCard.

First Tech Federal Credit Union is a $7.35 billion institution headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. It serves techn-oriented companies and their employees, including HP, Microsoft, Agilent, Intel, CISCO, Amazon, Nike, CH2M Hill, Intuit and Google.

The cybersecurity funds will be spent on technology enhancements aimed at delivering peace of mind for MasterCard cardholders, merchants and issuing banks, said the credit card firm. A solution called MasterCard Safety Net will be central to the initiative.

Designed to reduce the risk of fraud or cyberattacks before issuers and processors might notice the threat, the solution will provide an independent layer of security on top of the tools and policies of financial institutions, by "monitoring and blocking specific transactions based on selected criteria".

Earlier this month, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga praised Apple Pay’s progress in the US, but said that it still has a limited share of the global market.

“You saw Apple Pay talk about their mobile payment growth, and at the end of the day, yes, they’ve done a great job and it’s excited the market, but it’s still a very small percentage of what the total number of transactions are,” said Banga.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week that Apple Pay has accounted for two of every three dollars spent through contactless payments on Visa, MasterCard, and American Express since the service launched in October.