The camera phone has changed the way society has captured events, turning smartphone owners into citizen journalists, giving rise to photo-based social media apps and creating new products like the selfie stick.
Yet vanity is gradually adding up to dollars and cents, with more businesses begin to cater to consumers through their smartphone's camera lens.
MasterCard recently announced it will start experimenting with a new program of approving online purchases with a facial scan rather than a password. PayPal is also offering a similar concept through its mobile app and recently, Apple filed a patent allowing facial recognition technology to unlock your iPhone (a practice that Samsung has as well).
These trends are emerging as recent data suggest many consumers—including the hotly coveted millennial age group—have a clear affinity for using pictures rather than keyboards.
A new survey of more than 1,000 millennials found that 96 percent consider their camera crucial to their smartphone and nearly 50 percent even said their smartphone was "practically useless" without a camera. The survey, conducted by Mitek and Zogby Analytics, found that 68 percent of respondents said they would rather snap a picture than have to type something. That may be causing causing businesses to rethink how their younger consumers interact with products and services.
James DeBello, Mitek's president & CEO, said companies are finding it important to engage with millennials on their own terms. One example DeBello cited is being able to sign up for a gym membership by taking a photo of a driver's license, instead of having to type out information.
"The camera phone is how they want to be doing transactions and there can be revenue opportunities," he told CNBC. "The camera is the new addiction and it's a gateway to commerce."