Procurement · 16 March 2016

Amazon set to let customers pay by selfie

selfie
Users will be given another excuse to shamelessly pose in front of their smartphones when Amazon starts to the technology

Online shopping behemoth Amazon has filled a patent application in the US for a design which will let customers verify their identity by taking a selfie, suggesting the technology could soon be coming to the site.

The application – filled on 10 March – states that the ecommerce giant’s invention is capable of “denying the transaction as a result of determining that the person is not recognized” or logging users who match the information held on them into the site.

The patent application highlights the security benefits the firm thinks the technology will provide, arguing: “As people are utilising computing devices for an increasing variety of tasks, there is a corresponding need to improve the security available for these tasks. 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.

“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.”

The news follows an announcement by MasterCard in February 2016 that the payment processor’s UK customers will soon be able to download an app to use their smartphone’s camera for identity verification. The system will require users to blink into the camera to prove they are not simply holding up a photograph.

Small UK-based marketplace sellers have turned to Amazon with increasing enthusiasm in recent years. Total export revenues through the site surpassing £1.4bn in 2015, and almost 50 per cent of purchases on Amazon sites around the world were from third-party sellers last year.

In November 2015 the site launched Amazon Launchpad – a platform to help UK startups bring innovative new products to market – in collaboration with 25 venture capital firms including Crowdcube and Indiegogo.

George Osborne has come under pressure recently to announce measures in the Budget to protect these small UK sellers against unfair competition from foreign companies avoiding VAT when selling through platforms like eBay and Amazon.

They may be great for payment security, but selfies aren’t quite as much of a hit with HR professionals, as this survey reveals.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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