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The Future is at Hand: Food Retailers Launch Biometric Technology

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The Future is at Hand: Food Retailers Launch Biometric Technology

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Amazon is launching a new system called Amazon One at a Whole Foods store in Seattle, with plans to expand to seven other stores in the area.

The rather innovative technology allows shoppers to associate their palm with a credit card for efficient checkout.

HOW IT WORKS

The biometric technology uses algorithms to make a unique palm signature which customers can connect to a credit card and scan as a form of contactless payment. Amazon One is unlike Amazon’s technology Just Walk Out, which uses extensive technology to track customers through the store and allows them to leave the store without scanning items, according to GeekWire (April 22). The new Amazon One technology does require customers to scan items at checkout, but it eliminates the need for cashiers and reduces payment times.

The technology is, allegedly, quite secure.

“The Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built in the cloud where we create your palm signature,” wrote Amazon executive Dilip Kumar, in an FAQ.

Still, some customers have privacy concerns. Amazon has been under scrutiny for failing to obtain customer consent to use their biometric data, according to Biometric Update (April 22).

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POSSIBLE IMPACT ON FOOD INDUSTRY

Amazon One and Just Walk Out are available to third-party merchants, so restaurant owners could soon begin using this contactless payment technology as well. The technology will expand based on consumer demand, and competitors are also developing their own, similar technology at this time. Amazon has not disclosed the price for either Amazon One or Just Walk Out.

Companies around the world have started using biometric technology for increased convenience and speed for customers. Sberbank, a Russian bank, has launched fingerprint biometrics at a grocery store chain and will launch facial recognition technology for payment at Magnit, a Russian grocery chain. Crédit Agricole France has also launched fingerprint biometrics for their elite customers.

In the past year, global demand for contactless forms of payment “rapidly accelerated,” according to Forbes (April 15). For many, concerns about safety and cleanliness amid the pandemic brought about a switch to these new forms of payment. The use of contactless payment methods in the U.S. alone increased 19 percent last year, according to market research firm Dynata. Thus, it appears Amazon’s launch comes at an ideal time.

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The Food Institute