tech

Amazon One Tech Will Allow Shoppers to Pay With Their Palm Prints

Biometric payments could make checkout more convenient—if Amazon can assuage privacy concerns.
article cover

Amazon

· less than 3 min read

Stay up to date on the retail industry

All the news and insights retail pros need to know, all in one newsletter. Join over 180,000 retail professionals by subscribing today.

The future of contactless payments could be in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Yesterday, Amazon brought Amazon One out of stealth mode. It’s a checkout experience that allows shoppers to pay by scanning their palms, an ideal payment method for impatient customers, germaphobes, and the choreographer from Bring It On:

  • The first time a shopper goes to an Amazon One terminal, they’ll scan their palm and enter their credit card info.
  • On every successive trip, they'll hold a jazz hand over the terminal to pay.

At launch, Amazon One is only available at two cashierless Amazon convenience stores in the Seattle area. But Amazon hinted that more are on the way. Expansion will start with Amazon-owned stores; Amazon said it’ll eventually sell the tech to third party retailers.

Biometric metrics

The palm-scanning tech arrives just as retailers are embracing a hands-free experience in stores.

  • 67% of U.S. retailers said they now accept no-touch payments, in an August survey by the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research.
  • U.S. shoppers’ adoption of contactless payments tech has increased by nearly 10% during the pandemic, per a Mercator Advisory Group study.

Amazon One uses “biometrics,” which Emerging Tech Brew describes as “the science of digitizing biological identifiers like voice, eyes, gait, and face.” Biometric payment methods are relatively rare in U.S. retail, thanks to privacy concerns and high costs of adoption.

Speaking of privacy...Amazon said palm scans are safer than other forms of biometrics because a photo of a handprint can’t identify a person like a selfie can. Not that said handprints will be leaked, Amazon claims, because it’s housing Amazon One data in a cloud-based, encrypted server.

  • Potential retail partners won’t have complete privacy: Amazon will still collect data about where shoppers pay by hand, per Recode.

So retailers that want to shorten shoppers’ store visits by 0.005 seconds have a choice: Are they comfortable sharing consumer data with Amazon, or should they settle for QR codes?

Stay up to date on the retail industry

All the news and insights retail pros need to know, all in one newsletter. Join over 180,000 retail professionals by subscribing today.