Will Amazon’s palm reader reveal the future of retail payment?
Facial recognition and other forms of biometric identification have proven controversial as U.S. retailers have begun to experiment with such technologies for payment and other interactions requiring the verification of identity. Amazon.com, however, is going live with a test of a biometric solution that will let customers pay by palm in select Amazon Go stores.
The Amazon One biometric payment and authentication tool associates a digital signature with an image of a customer’s palm or palms. Once customers have their palms scanned into the system, they can then hold one or both palms in front of a reader at checkout or other points of the shopping journey where verification is needed, replacing the need to scan a credit/debit card or loyalty card.
Amazon has been experimenting with hand-based biometric payment for a while. Late last year it was revealed that the retailer had been running tests of a hand recognition-based payment technology at its home offices. The solution was described as using “depth geometry” to identify unique characteristics, like the shape and size of a user’s hand, and was purported to be able to carry out transactions markedly faster than a credit card.
Amazon One works by identifying the vein patterns in the palm of a user’s hand, according to an article on Hypebeast, which says that the hardware is roughly as accurate as a fingerprint scanner.
While fingerprint-based and face-based identification have become standard features on some iPhones, using biometrics remains a thorny topic in the U.S. due to the privacy issues that arise, especially as concerns being identified by retailers in public places.
Legal battles have already emerged due to biometric technology. Macy’s was hit with a class-action lawsuit earlier this year in Illinois for identifying shoppers with its security cameras using facial recognition software.
Early on in the novel coronavirus pandemic, however, U.S. retailers began giving the technology a second look. Fears that touching contaminated surfaces could spread the novel coronavirus led the city of Pasadena, California to launch a facial recognition-based payment network with 25 retailers on board. Biometrics are also being piloted for contact-free entry into sports stadiums.
- Introducing Amazon One—a new innovation to make everyday activities effortless – Amazon.com
- Amazon Tests Palm Biometrics for Retail Transactions – Progressive Grocer
- Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout – RetailWire
- Amazon One Scanner Reads the Veins In Your Palm – Hypebeast
- How important is biometric verification for mobile payments? – RetailWire
- Will COVID-19 give facial recognition a second look? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see greater potential for the use of touch-free palm print readers compared to other types of verification, such as retinal scans, facial recognition, fingerprint readers, etc.? Will we reach a point when using biometrics to pay at a store is widely accepted?