AmEx Pilots Biometric Features for Safer Online Transactions

Melissa Lambarena
By Melissa Lambarena 
Edited by Kenley Young

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American Express is testing enhanced safety features for online credit card transactions, adding facial and fingerprint recognition to SafeKey, an online security program that aims to detect and reduce fraud.

The pilot began rolling out to a select number of eligible U.S. cardholders in late September, said J.J. Kieley, vice president of digital identity and commerce experiences at American Express, in an email. AmEx has plans to make it available to all consumer cardholders in early 2024.

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As of Oct. 30, 2023, American Express is also enhancing CreditSecure, its identity monitoring and fraud protection service. Cardholders will be able to access new features that aim to safeguard personal information online including social media monitoring, dormant account alerts and more. CreditSecure is available to cardholders for a monthly fee. With the latest enhancements, the membership fee will increase from $16.99 to $19.99 per month.

How it works

Eligible cardholders are automatically enrolled in SafeKey, but they will need to download AmEx’s app, enable notifications and turn on “remember this device” to use it. They can enable facial and fingerprint recognition when they use SafeKey to check out online with participating merchants on a device that supports these options. Currently, the technology is available only on major web browsers, iOS and Android platforms.

SafeKey works in the background to authenticate the cardholder and may request identity verification with a code, app notification, or face or fingerprint ID. SafeKey can activate during the checkout process for any merchant that has integrated the technology if American Express determines that identity verification is needed, according to Kieley. If a merchant is not participating in AmEx’s SafeKey option, cardholders will not be asked to verify their identity.

“We’re focused on developing solutions that keep us one step ahead of fraudsters, so our card members can shop safely online,” said Kieley in a press release. “Now, checking out safely and securely is as easy as unlocking your phone. SafeKey’s biometric facial and fingerprint recognition minimizes friction while maximizing security for our card members at checkout. It’s how we check in when you checkout.”

What happens to cardholders' details

American Express will not have access to face or fingerprint data. The issuer says on its website that it will not use cardholders’ information for marketing purposes without their consent and details will be stored in accordance with their privacy policy.

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