Khalifa University ‘Pay with a Selfie’ project granted $100,000

A Khalifa University professor has been granted US$100,000 (Dh367,314) by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for technology that would allow people to pay for items simply by taking a selfie.

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ABU DHABI // At last there is a meaningful use for selfies – and a Khalifa University professor has been granted US$100,000 (Dh367,000) by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop it.

Dr Ernesto Damiani has created technology that allows people to pay for items by taking a photo of themselves with their smartphones.

The “Pay with a Selfie” project is aimed at helping those without access to debit and credit machines, ATMs and banks.

“Everybody has a smartphone, even in rural or developing areas where there is not much technology,” said Dr Damiani, of the university’s department of electrical and computer engineering.

“And everyone takes selfies, so the ability to use these pictures and combine them with a form of encryption that is unforgeable, and use this as a method of payment, will certainly change how transactions are made in developing countries.

“And it may aid in the transition from bartering systems to monetary systems that will, in turn, spur the growth of the economy.”

The system requires the customer and seller to take pictures of each other and details of the purchase, such as holding up a price tag in the photo, and send it to a third party who will verify the images and process the payment.

Using encryption software, the point-of-service will reconstruct the images of the buyer, seller and the amount to validate the payment before the transaction is complete.

There are now plans to include Khalifa University students in the project.

Dr Mohammed Al Mualla, the university’s senior vice president for research and graduate studies, said he was pleased students would contribute to its development. “This will be truly inspiring for them,” he said.

newsdesk@thenational.ae