Amazon announced that it's palm recognition-based payment system called Amazon One is getting a big expansion. By the end of this year, the biometric contactless payment technology will be coming to all 500+ Whole Foods Market stores in the US that are owned by the e-commerce giant.
Amazon One was introduced back in 2020 and it allows users to make payments simply by hovering their hand over a biometric scanner device. The payment system has crossed 3 million uses, Amazon said, and it's currently available at over 400 locations across the US, including places like retail stores, airports, entertainment centers, and sports stadiums.
You can pre-enroll to the payment service online using your credit/debit card, Amazon account, and phone number and get your palm scanned at a store where an Amazon One device is available. If you want, you can directly register at a store as well.
Once enrolled, you don't need to carry your credit card or even your phone to make payments. For Prime members, their savings and other benefits will automatically apply to their Whole Foods market purchases, the company said.
The palm recognition tech can also be used at places where age verification is required, without the need to show government-issued IDs. For instance, Coors Field is using Amazon One to verify adult customers ages 21 and over to sell alcoholic beverages. It remains to be seen whether the functionality will work at Whole Foods as well.
Almost a year after its launch, U.S. lawmakers wrote to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to know more about the collection of biometric data. "We are also concerned that Amazon may use data from Amazon One, including data from third-party customers that may purchase and use Amazon One devices, to further cement its competitive power and suppress competition across various markets," the letter said.
Amazon says its biometric authentication is secure as it uses a "palm signature" to verify a user instead of capturing a raw image of their palm. A palm signature can't be replicated to impersonate someone as the scanner device looks at the palm and the underlying vein structure to "create a unique numerical, vector representation" to match the identity.
This allows the e-commerce giant to delete the palm signatures and create new ones if required, even though a person's palm and vein patterns are permanent. Amazon tries to assure that "customer palm data is safeguarded in the AWS Cloud," adding that its palm recognition technology "is protected by multiple security controls and has tamper-detection capabilities that will render the device unusable if meddled with."