Amazon is reportedly trying to develop checkout terminals that would allow customers to use a palm scan to pay for goods and services at physical establishments. The tech giant has been collaborating with Mastercard and Visa – in addition to card issuers like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Synchrony – to ensure the security and utility of the platform.
The proposed terminals would theoretically be able to facilitate payments and enroll new customers in the program. To do so, customers would first need to insert a physical debit or credit card, and then scan their palm to link the card to the image. After that, the customer would no longer need to use a card or phone, and would be able to pay with only their palm on subsequent visits.
However, it is worth noting that the technical details have not yet been finalized. It is not yet clear how the system would handle users with multiple cards, or deal with someone trying to register a card that has been stolen.
The latest report lends credence to a previous report that suggested that Amazon was hoping to trial a hand-based naked payments scheme at its Whole Foods locations, though the follow-up makes it quite clear that Amazon’s ambitions go well beyond its own chain. The report indicates that the company would like to place the terminals inside brick-and-mortar stores, but acknowledges that there has been some pushback from physical retailers who are wary about boosting the awareness of an online competitor.
That’s probably why Amazon is currently focusing its efforts on neighborhood establishments like coffee shops and fast-food restaurants, which have less overlap with Amazon’s offerings. The terminals would give Amazon access to more data about people’s shopping habits, which could raise privacy concerns given Amazon’s contentious use of facial recognition.
January 21, 2020 – by Eric Weiss