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Selfies Going Business Mainstream?

By Peter Clarke, JD on July 07, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Selfies -- are you a fan or a hater? Either way, selfies may soon not only be personal, but they may also have a business function. Stay with me here.

Yes, there are people who take photos of themselves on their smartphones on practically a constant basis so that we can see them in every life activity imaginable on social media or mobile-friendly blogs. And yes, this can be annoying, even if some of these photos might actually be interesting if we were not otherwise inundated by mundane selfie photos.

Notwithstanding the selfie abusers, most of us nevertheless have been guilty of the selfie phenomenon if at least just once in a while. After all, what is a photo of your favorite mountain, waterfall, sunset, sports event, concert, or restaurant without your lovely face in the foreground for all the world to see, right?

And if the selfie thing were not big enough, selfie sticks have come out of the woodwork. These sticks give us an even greater ability to capture ourselves as we live our lives out loud.

But so far, we only have been addressing personal selfies. Is there also a business function for selfies? Apparently, the answer may be in the affirmative.

According to CNET, MasterCard is developing a mobile app that capitalizes on selfies. MasterCard apparently is creating an app that depends on facial recognition technology.

To make a purchase with this MasterCard app, all one would need to do to purchase an item would be to look at a smartphone camera for a selfie photo and then one captured blink. The blink would prevent someone else from using a photo of the purchaser to buy something. Alternatively, a finger print could be used.

A purchaser's facial photo or fingerprint would not actually be sent to MasterCard. Rather, a code would be created from the image, and MasterCard would receive that code to effectuate the purchase.

With a sizable and increasing percentage of purchases being made on mobile devices, this app potentially could have some real utility. Time will tell.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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