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Covid19, News, Retail, Technology

Amazon’s New Biometric Technology Lets You Pay With Your Palm

Siim Pettai

Siim Pettai, Writer
@uxconnections

Retailing giant Amazon has launched its own palm recognition technology that lets customers effortlessly make payments.

The COVID-19 outbreak has fueled the need for contactless technologies. The most recent company to come up with a contactless payment technology is Amazon. The retailer recently introduced Amazon One, a new biometric technology that allows consumers to use the palm of their hand to perform payments at the store.

© Amazon

At the core of the technology is a scanner, which uses image scanning hardware to capture and encrypt an image of your palm. The image will then act as a signature, which you can use to perform payments. 

The only things you need to sign up for the service are your phone number and credit card. To start using the device, you have to insert your credit card into the scanner at the store, then hover your palm over the device. Amazon One then goes onto link your palm to your payment card. It is possible to link both palms to one credit card. 

Although an Amazon account is not required to sign up, users can link their accounts to check their payment history.

Once the setup is complete, it is possible to perform payments by hovering your palm over the Amazon One scanner. The technology will initially be available at Amazon Go stores in Seattle. It’s unclear whether other companies will be using the technology. Yet, Amazon has stated it is in talks with several potential customers, some that go beyond the retail sector.

In a statement blog post, Amazon said that the service has many other use cases besides payments. Amazon One can also be used by third parties such as stadiums and office buildings to give people access to events and rooms.

Challenges

Of course, with this kind of technology comes security concerns. Amazon has stated that Amazon One is designed to be highly secure. The device is protected by several security controls. Images of one’s palm are never stored on the device. Instead, the images are encrypted and transferred into a secure area where the palm signature is created. 

Amazon also states that palm recognition is more secure than any other biometric technology, such as facial recognition. That’s based on merely the fact that you can’t determine someone’s identity based on the image of their palm.

Another potential challenge is that the device requires users to be educated. Today’s consumers are used to touching surfaces using their thumbprint. Therefore, chances are at the start, users will try to mash their palm down on the Amazon One too. This wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t going through a COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, if the surface is constantly being touched by customers, a staff who would regularly wipe the device would be essential. 

For now, Amazon wants to hear feedback from customers as the device finds its place in a variety of locations.

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