Selfie for a cause

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Published: November 29, 2015 12:01:38 AM

THE SELFIE is not a new phenomenon. In fact, its history dates back to September 2002, when Australian citizen Nathan Hope uploaded a ‘self-photograph’ on an online forum.

The selfie is not a new phenomenon. In fact, its history dates back to September 2002, when Australian citizen Nathan Hope uploaded a ‘self-photograph’ on an online forum. The picture showed Hope’s swollen lower lip with some stitches because of a small accident at a friend’s 21st birthday party. With the picture, he wrote, “And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie”. From then on, selfies became all the rage. Today, almost everyone—from world leaders to famous celebrities—has clicked one. One can, in fact, gauge its popularity from the fact that, in November 2013, Oxford English Dictionary announced ‘selfie’ as its word of the year.

Recently, selfies were in the news in India, too, when the Delhi Police initiated a ‘selfie with the elderly’ drive—beat constables of the north district visited senior citizens on Diwali to wish them and clicked selfies with them. These were then shared on social media. However, selfies can also land you in trouble, as Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh learnt the hard way. He was clicked taking a selfie with actor Kareena Kapoor at a recent child rights event in Raipur, and drew severe flak for the ‘inappropriate’ action.

Clearly, selfies are not just about posing, pouting, fun and frolic. In fact, today, these ‘self-portraits’ can be put to good use for serious business, as well as things like opening a bank account and authorising online payments, among others. Here’s how:

Bank on it

Till sometime back, opening and keeping track of a bank account was a painstaking process, involving long queues, and tedious documentation and verification processes, etc. The adoption of technology and new banking norms have made the process a little less cumbersome. And now, thanks to the selfie, it’s easier than ever to open a bank account. Federal Bank’s FedBook Selfie app, which was launched in September this year, makes opening a bank account just a ‘selfie away’. All you need to do is download the app on your smartphone, click a selfie and scan your Aadhaar and PAN cards. The app verifies the details in real time and opens a bank account for you. Once your account is functional, the app also turns into a digital passbook. From cities to villages, almost anyone can click a selfie and open a bank account with this app, which is available on Android and iOS platforms.

Stamping ground

Postage stamps have a long and illustrious history in India. Down the years, the Department of Post has issued some memorable stamps on various themes—history, architecture, culture, sports, important personalities, etc. But what if your face made it to one of these stamps? Yes, it’s possible now. ‘My Stamp’, an innovative scheme by the Department of Post, lets users convert their selfies into postage stamps. The scheme, which was first introduced during the World Philatelic Exhibition, INDIPEX-2011, in New Delhi, was recently re-launched by the postal department. To get a personalised stamp, a user needs to visit the head post office with a selfie (the picture can also be a hard copy) and fill the My Stamp order form. For R300, users can get 12 personalised R5-postage stamps. You can also click a selfie on the spot.

Paid in full

Imagine this: you have shortlisted a product while shopping online and are waiting on the checkout page to complete the transaction. You enter your card details, but can’t recall the PIN. Try as you might, it doesn’t come to you. Sometime or the other, we have all faced this problem. But now, there’s no need to worry. Enter the selfie. Global financial services company MasterCard is working on a system, wherein selfies, or facial recognition technology, could be used for online payment authentication. All you need to complete an online transaction is open an app on your phone, look at the screen and blink. And voila, your payment would be authorised! No more remembering or typing out long PINs. The blinking bit in the system is the most crucial, as it ensures that the smartphone is looking at a real face and not a photograph. As of now, MasterCard customers use the ‘SecureCode’ system, which entails entering a password for online shopping. As per a recent CNN Money report, MasterCard’s programme will initially be a limited experiment, involving just a few hundred customers. However, the company has plans to launch it publicly later. The report also mentioned that for this initiative, MasterCard has partnered with some of the biggest smartphone-makers, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung.

Know your selfie

The first known selfie is believed to have been clicked by Philadelphia photographer Robert Cornelius in 1839. Cornelius removed the lens cap of the camera, ran into the frame and stayed there for a second. He then covered the lens again, capturing his own picture.

In March 2014, Time magazine ranked 459 cities across the world to determine ‘the selfiest places on earth’. New Delhi came in at No. 131, while Mumbai ranked 416.

‘Velfies’, or video selfies, are the latest trend and involve a short video of the individual posting it.

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