A New Way to Pay: Amazon Patent Describes Pay by Selfie

A model poses for a selfie with the newly launched Xiaomi Mi 4i phone in Hong Kong, China May 5, 2015. |

Amazon wants shoppers to pay by selfie, according to a patent it recently filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This new way to pay for purchases aims to replace the current method to complete a transaction which requires passwords.

The patent will allow shoppers to simply take a photo or video of themselves to pay for something they bought. The new patent application is related to another patent that Amazon holds which describes a technology that will authenticate a user through photo or video, according to ReCode.

Amazon reasons that requiring passwords to complete a purchase transaction can be "awkward or embarrassing in many situations." For instance, a shopper will have to turn away from friends or co-workers so as to keep their passwords secret, a behavior that can be read as being rude. In addition, passwords can be hard to remember and it can be risky to store passwords on devices as they can be stolen.

Amazon's pay by selfie patent
An image depicting Amazon's pay by selfie patent |

With Amazon's pay by selfie method, shoppers will be prompted to do "certain actions, motions, or gestures" to prove their not an imposter holding up a photo of the shopper. This action can be a smile, blink, or tilting of the head "that cannot be replicated with a two-dimensional image." Biometric facial recognition software will then analyze the input to confirm the transaction. The patent adds some users might also find the pay by selfie method "fun."

USA Today suggests Amazon could be setting up for a future when shoppers will be able to look at its digital assistant Alexa in the eye to verify purchases. The digital assistant is currently available to devices that don't have cameras, such as Amazon Echo, Dot and Dash. Of course, this could change in future.

Amazon's pay by selfie patent isn't the first one to explore the possibility of paying with a shopper's face. Last month, MasterCard announced a similar photo-based payment technology for its card holders. Alibaba chairman Jack Ma too demonstrated a similar technology last year.

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