Mastercard and BMO officially release Identity Check in North America

Canadian commercial clients of Bank of Montreal can finally check out Mastercard Inc.’s “selfie pay” technology for themselves.

The financial services giant, which collaborated with BMO to launch its biometric-based online payment confirmation application, Identity Check, for select clients earlier this year, recently announced that it will officially be extending the service – now called Identity Check Mobile – to BMO corporate cardholders across Canada and the U.S. starting in January 2017.

In an Oct. 24 statement Mastercard’s president of Enterprise Risk and Security, Ajay Bhalla, called the release “a significant milestone in the evolution of payments.”

The application, which allows online shoppers to use their smartphone’s fingerprint sensor or Mastercard’s remote facial recognition software – that is, shoot a selfie – to verify their identity instead of a password, will also be offered to BMO’s corporate customers starting in the first half of 2017, the bank said.

Steve Pedersen, BMO’s head of North American corporate card products, also noted that following Identity Check’s soft launch in March, the bank began polling participants to gauge their reactions – and that their overall impressions were positive.

In all, 74 per cent of participants strongly agreed that biometrics were easier to use than passwords, with nine out of 10 participants anticipating they will use biometrics for online payment security in the future, BMO said.

To use Identity Check Mobile, existing BMO commercial customers must opt into the service and download an app, which will then automatically notify the customer should they need to verify an online purchase.

In a previous interview with, MasterCard’s vice-president of identity solutions for North America, Dennis Gamiello, said the application was designed with ease of use and security in mind.

To the latter end, the facial recognition feature requires that users blink to prove their humanity, and is encrypted on MasterCard’s servers, so that even if thieves stole the information they wouldn’t be able to use it.

And though any smartphone user with a camera can take a selfie to verify their identity, the fingerprint scanning option is only available on smartphones with fingerprint scanning technology.

“It’s no mystery to anyone that passwords are a pain and prone to being compromised, so we’ve been testing various methods, including biometrics,” Gamiello said in March. “It’s all about making the experience safer and more simple.”

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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