Hackers and fraudsters get more personal

Personal information is the new credit card information – at least when it comes to the kind of information targeted in data breaches, according to a new report from security firm Gemalto. Their data shows that the retail sector experienced a whopping 93% drop in the number of data records stolen in 2015, and financial services fell by 99%.


Meanwhile, two sectors that deal with largely non-financial data saw significant rises in breaches: healthcare and government. “In 2015, criminals shifted to attacks on personal information and identity theft, which are much harder to remediate once they are stolen,” said Jason Hart of Gemalto.

Mastercard expands “selfie pay”

Selfie authentication is on its way to the mainstream. After testing its “selfie pay” technology with consumers, MasterCard says that it’s starting to roll it out – and it should be available in about a dozen countries over the next few years. While some who read the headlines may assume that this is a fun and magical new way to pay, it’s actually an easy way to authenticate potentially risky transactions. 

Here’s how it works: A shopper will first have to download the MasterCard app. When they’re buying something, they’ll enter their credit card info as usual, and then – if the transaction is flagged as risky – they can take a photo to prove it’s really them. Faces, fingerprints…what’s next? MasterCard told The Verge they’re looking at heartbeat recognition technology in the future.

Visa Checkout gets upgrades

Visa’s been working on their checkout product to make it feel more like a contextual part of a merchant’s own checkout. The payments giant announced some improvements to Visa Checkout at the eTail West event, including customized messages and offers, a streamlined flow, and a simpler sign-up process that takes advantage of Google APIs and phone scanning features. Visa said the changes should show up starting in April.

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