Mastercard thinks forcing you to smile for capitalism isn't creepy at all

“Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay.”


Tim Robinson smiling awkwardly screenshot from I Think You Should Leave

Mastercard thinks you’re so much prettier when you smile.

Well, to be more accurate — Mastercard thinks you’re so much prettier when you’re purchasing things using its services and is now suggesting you should smile while you do it. In fact, yesterday it announced the rollout of a new “Biometric Checkout Program” utilizing grins and hand gestures to approve your transactions. Yep, that’s right: If you want to purchase your next stick of prescription-grade deodorant, you better be prepared to grin like the goddamn Cheshire Cat for it.

To put this as bluntly as humanly possible: Mastercard is trying to sell you on providing more of your biometric data and faking a smile to spend money you probably don’t have on items you likely don’t need. I’d laugh at the thought, but I don’t want to accidentally purchase any more of that deodorant. I’m not that sweaty, I swear.

All that money at its disposal, and Mastercard is still opting for generic stock art.Mastercard

Consumer, has this ever happened to you? — “No more fumbling for your phone or hunting for your wallet when you have your hands full,” reads Mastercard’s official release, because we all know how full our hands can be... after we have given our desired purchases to a checkout attendant and/or already bagged them? “Once enrolled, there is no need to slow down the checkout queue searching through their pockets or bag. Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay,” the announcement later continues.

Mastercard is also apparently trying to lean into the “public health” angle here, arguing this is a great way to expand contactless payment method options, because the recent “tap-to-pay” system is so filthy, obviously.

Let’s look at the stats — To convince on-the-fence customers that forcing a smile is a great step forward for commerce, Mastercard offers up numerous statistics pointing toward the general public’s support of biometric data technology. While that may be true, that doesn’t mean the public is right about handing over their eagerness and trust in addition to fingerprints and face scans.

Biometric tech can be notoriously biased based on race, something we’ve been shown time and time again. Not only that, but the data is routinely abused by various countries’ powers-that-be, and there’s really no telling yet just how much damage can be done if this kind of information falls into the hands of bad actors. Not only is Mastercard’s new “grin” feature belittling, it’s potentially dangerous — and that’s nothing to smile about.