Shoppers Give Grocer The Finger

Feb 02, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Shoppers at Thriftway Stores in the Seattle, Wash.-area have been giving the supermarket the finger for years and the grocer wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since 2002, Thriftway has been giving its customers the options of paying by fingerprint. Using a biometric service developed by Pay by Touch out of San Francisco, shoppers use their fingerprint to verify their identity and give approval for payment from a debit or credit card on file with the store.

Paul Kapioski, president of Thriftway, told the San Francisco Chronicle that any concerns he or anyone might have had about consumers feeling their privacy was being intruded upon by the fingerprint technology were quickly set aside. The program, originally planned as a 60-day test, was so well received it was made part of Thriftway’s payment options for its shoppers.

“We found people came to the store because of this. Lots of senior citizens felt more secure not carrying money to the store,” he said.

The benefit to his business, said Mr. Kapioski, is two-fold. First, the use of system reduces the cost of the average electronic transaction as most customers use a debit rather than credit card to make payments. The system has also substantially reduced the number of fraudulent transactions at Thriftway stores.

Moderator’s Comment: Will biometric payment systems become commonplace in retail stores in the not-too-distant future? What opportunities and challenges
do you see associated with using the technology and how should retailers handle them?

Thirty percent of Thriftway’s transactions are processed using the biometric technology, according to Paul Kapioski.
George Anderson – Moderator

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