Much of Amazon's success can be attributed to its effortless one-click ordering system. Rival retailers have been busy playing catch-up trying to replicate the simplified online shopping experience for consumers that have become frustrated with cumbersome online checkouts.
Now Amazon would like to take our laziness to the next level by allowing customers to pay by selfie, according to their recent patent application. It seems that we can no longer be trusted with a humble password after storing them on our phones or leaving a trail of paper that acts as a gateway to our personal data.
The days of remembering a phone number are confined to the past. Our goldfish-like memories have no chance of remembering the growing number of passwords for our software applications in the office, personal website logins or favorite online stores.
There is a realization that mainstream users will never embrace personal password safes. And it's clear the current authentication methods online are in need of a 21st-century upgrade. Biometric passwords that involve using our fingerprints or retina scans are often thought of as the natural successor to tapping "123456" to confirm your identity.
Considering that people seem to spend more time taking selfies with their smartphones than anything else, maybe this isn't as crazy it first sounds. Surely, it would qualify as progress if we advanced from taking photos of our food on our devices?
The patent application by Amazon states "the device can prompt the user to perform certain actions, motions, or gestures, such as to smile, blink, or tilt his or her head." Meaning we better get used to witnessing people pulling funny faces in front of their smartphone.
A selection of MasterCard customers already has access to selfie authentication through a unique app. Users are given the option of scanning their face or fingerprint upon making an online purchase. Whatever your opinion, there is no denying it is easier than being prompted for the 1st, 2nd and 9th characters of your Password.
Meanwhile, Google is busy working on a hands free authentication system. The service enables paying in stores without fumbling for cash, card or a smartphone. The concept simply involves shoppers approaching the checkout saying the phrase "I'll pay with Google." The cashier will ask for your initials and use the picture you added to your Hands-Free profile to confirm your identity.
Although it sounds incredibly exciting, the reality is you will probably be given a look of despair by the cashier as you desperately find yourself repeating the mantra "I'll pay with Google."
Familiar names such Amazon, MasterCard, and Google continue to dominate the headlines with this innovative technology. But we shouldn't forget that it was Alibaba founder Jack Ma who demonstrated a payment system using facial recognition technology at the CeBit conference in Hanover last year.
We already have replenishment service buttons called Amazon Dash that enables us to reorder our favorite items at a push of a button. As technology advances, our fingerprints, retinas, and even our heartbeat could be used as tools that allow innovative solutions to confirm our identity.
Paying by selfie is not quite as ludicrous as it first seems. A future where our faces become a third level of authentication due to the progress in biometric security is already here.
It's finally time to stop shaking our heads in disbelief or scoffing at the this latest innovative concept. The demise of the aging username and password is approaching--so don't let your online store be caught with one foot in the past.