“…Amazon One won’t just be used to process payments, but will be used to gain access to the store.”
Amazon has officially unveiled its palm-based biometric payments system – and ambitions to target the access control market, as well.
Rumors of Amazon’s experiments with biometric payments – also called “naked payments” for their eschewing of any cards or other payment hardware on the part of the customer – began bubbling up in September of last year, with speculation that Amazon would bring such biometric POS terminals to some of its Whole Foods stores. The rumors were followed by reports early this year that Amazon was working with major financial services providers including Mastercard, Visa, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo on the project.
Now, Amazon has announced the Amazon One, a sleek, phone receiver-shaped terminal that features a palm scanner at the top of a touch display interface. The company is first going to deploy the devices at two of its Amazon Go stores in Seattle, and will then bring it to additional Amazon stores “in the coming months,” according to the company’s announcement.
And there is a twist: Amazon One won’t just be used to process payments, but will be used to gain access to the store. Going forward, Amazon is going to try selling the device to third parties specifically for this purpose, with the company stating, “we believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places.”
For now, Amazon is inviting customers to try it for themselves, emphasizing the ease of the registration process. A customer first inserts their payment card into an Amazon One device, and then holds their palm over the scanner to link their biometrics to the payment card. There is also the option of linking both palms to a single payment account.
From there, Amazon says that users’ palm images are encrypted and stored in “a highly secure area we custom-built in the cloud” – in other words, on a remote server.
Amazon’s announcement comes after several other startups have trialed their own nascent biometric payment technologies around the world, and, given the company’s prominence, it could help to dramatically raise the profile of this emerging FinTech area.