Amazon develops hand recognition payment system
Amazon is reportedly working on a new payment system that would use card data linked to the hand of the user.
Jon Fingas reported for Engadget that:
Amazon’s rumored hand recognition payment tech might be useful beyond paying for produce at Whole Foods. Wall Street Journal sources say the company is developing hand-based checkout terminals that it would sell to “coffee shops, fast-food restaurants” and other stores that tend to have repeat customers, not just Whole Foods. It’s also clearer as to how the technology might work. The system would reportedly start by linking your payment card to your hand, asking you to insert your old-school plastic and scan your hand before you could pay using your hand alone.
Amazon’s cloud would store the data and might even tie it to Amazon.com spending to help target ads, although we can imagine some hesitation given that people are already concerned about creepy targeting. The company may also have challenges in safeguarding payment cars. It could blacklist people caught using stolen cards, according to tipsters, but that would only help after a thief had already bought at least one item using your hard-earned money.
The system is still young, but may be making progress. Amazon is said to be working with Visa for test transactions, and is supposedly in talks with Mastercard. It might be less a question of whether or not the technology is viable as whether shoppers and stores are receptive. While handprints aren’t as revealing as faces, customers might still be reluctant to link biometric data to Amazon. Shops, meanwhile, might not want to remind customers that Amazon exists and that they could order some things online.
Lisa Lacy from Ad Week wrote:
This follows a September 2019 story from the New York Post, which said Amazon was testing pay-by-hand scanners at vending machines in its New York offices and planned to roll out the payment option at some Whole Foods locations in early 2020.
A patent application dated Dec. 26, 2019 from Amazon Technologies, the company’s Mumbai-based electronic manufacturing arm, for a “non-contact biometric identification system,” describes a hand scanner, which can capture images of users’ palms with wrinkles and “deeper characteristics” like veins.
The document suggests applications in stores, libraries, hospitals and offices and notes it can be used in conjunction with point-of-sale devices.
“The user may present their hand to a scanner to provide an indication of intent and authorization to pay with an account associated with the identification data,” the application says. (It also says the scanners may be used in conjunction with robots to facilitate package deliveries.)
The news comes after similar efforts from Amazon to eliminate friction at checkout and push into financial services, including checkout-free Amazon Go stores, which now number 24 in four U.S. cities, and its Amazon Pay service, which is hoping to capitalize on consumers’ increasing willingness to pay with their voices.
CNBC’s Emma Newburger reported:
While Amazon’s plan is in the early stages, the company has reportedly begun working with Visa on testing out the terminals, and has discussed the project with Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Synchrony Financial.
The company previously filed a patent for a “non-contact biometric identification system” that features a “hand scanner” to produce a picture of a person’s palm.
The news offers a look into Amazon’s ideas on transforming the way people shop in brick-and-mortar stores, and how it could work with credit card companies to further integrate itself into people’s financial lives.
Amazon will have to address concerns from card issuers and customers over how terminals would detect fraud and the amount of personal information the company will receive from the scans.
Data collected from the terminals would be stored on Amazon’s cloud and used to study consumers’ Amazon.com spending habits, according to The Journal.