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Amazon is planning to bring a biometric payment method to Whole Foods




With this payment method, consumers who have a Prime account with a card on file can scan their hand at checkout to make a purchase, per the New York Post.

Amazon In Financial Services

The scanner uses computer vision and depth geometry and doesn’t require consumers to physically touch it. The process reportedly takes less than 300 milliseconds, while a regular card transaction takes at least 3,000 milliseconds, or 3 seconds.

Amazon is currently testing the technology internally in an effort to improve its accuracy, and it aims to launch it at a few Whole Foods stores in the coming months before bringing it to all of its US locations.

Here’s what it means: The launch of this biometric payment method would mark Amazon’s first formal step into in-store payments technology and could preface a greater push into the area.

Amazon is a long-time player in the payments space with Amazon Pay, but now it may be turning its attention in-store. If the hand-scanning payment method proves successful, it could look to license it to physical retailers and payments providers.

The e-tailer could bundle this offering with omnichannel sales management tools, like those offered by Shopify, or aspects of its Amazon Go technology, which could immediately make it a major player in the in-store payments space. Amazon’s also reportedly working on a mobile payments offering that could be used in-store, which would further strengthen its payments push.

The bigger picture: If the hand-scanning payment method expands to Whole Foods stores nationwide, it could serve as many consumers’ introduction to biometric payments beyond their mobile devices.

  • The opportunity to speed up checkout in a large grocery store chain could convince consumers to start using biometric payments. Whole Foods has nearly 500 stores in the US and is a major player in the US grocery market, so consumers’ awareness of the new payment method could grow quickly once it rolls out. And because it could save time, consumers may be willing to give it a try, especially since they’ll be able to simply link to a preexisting Amazon account so the onboarding process may not be too difficult. This could give way to the introduction and adoption of more biometric payment options in the US if Amazon’s technology proves successful, especially considering consumers shop for groceries regularly so they might grow accustomed to the payment method.
  • But because Amazon’s hand-scanning process would be one of the first high-profile biometric payment options, it’ll likely bear the brunt of concerns about biometrics. Biometrics raise concerns about data privacy and security since consumers need to disclose new information in the form of their fingerprints, hand scans, and other data. If Amazon wants to be at the forefront of the biometric payment industry, it’ll also need to be ready to convince consumers and government officials that their information will be safe, or the technology could fail; this may prove difficult because, while some consumers are used to providing their fingerprints to access their phones, a scan of their hands would be new to them.


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