If you’re an avid Instagrammer or Snapchat aficionado, you’re probably pretty comfortable with sharing pictures of yourself – but how would you feel if you were asked to pay by selfie when visiting an online shop?

Biometrics are nothing new, but paying by selfie is the latest digital trend set to take off over the course of 2017, and one of the biggest ecommerce sites in the world, Amazon, are taking steps to integrate this type of payment facility into their service.

Currently ranked as the 8th largest website in the world according to Alexa.com, if Amazon’s recently-filed patent for selfie verification gets approved, most regular online shoppers will have to ‘face up’ to the change sooner or later!

How safe is a selfie payment?

The idea behind paying by selfie is to head-off the potential for hackers and other users to steal customer passwords – but surely someone can simply lift an image off your social media profile and use this to order something through your account?

Amazon has thought of this, with their patent covering a two step process. After an initial selfie snapshot to establish you’re the account holder, you’ll then be requested to perform a physical action. This could be a head-tilt, a wink, a smile or any gesture that demonstrates you’re a real-life person and not using a still image to break through security.

Other on-board brands

While Amazon may be the first retailer to adopt this payment method, other brands, such as financial services organisations, have already set up – or are in the process of rolling out – selfie and fingerprint account access capabilities, including:

  • HSBC
  • Mastercard
  • Barclays

For users of the iPhone, fingerprint recognition is nothing new, but the selfie payment system takes biometrics into a whole new ballpark.

Benefits of paying by selfie

The primary motivator for developing a ‘pay by selfie’ system is the vulnerability that surrounds traditional password protection.

However smart or sophisticated the website, a hack attack can breach the security of thousands of users at a time – and with many people choosing the same password over multiple accounts, it was only a matter of time before alternatives started to be explored.

We love the idea of paying by selfie, providing Amazon’s patent sets a precedent for ensuring that the payment and authentication process can’t be easily bypassed or mimicked by a stolen image. It could be the ideal way to stop hackers in their tracks and provide a truly unique and secure way to buy online.

What do you think? Would you like to pay by selfie, or do you think the old-fashioned password is a safer option?