Amazon is putting contactless payments in the palm of your hand. No, seriously. Today, the company has revealed Amazon One, a service that uses your unique palm signature to authenticate purchases and let you into gated locations, such as offices, gyms and stadiums. For now, palm reading is restricted to two Amazon Go stores — the type that doesn’t require you to interact with a cashier or self-service checkout — in Seattle. You’ll need to ‘enroll’ on your first visit by inserting your credit card and following the scanner’s on-screen instructions. Once your card and palm have been paired, you’ll able to enter the Seattle stores simply by holding your hand above the device “for about a second or so,” according to a blog post.
For now, it feels like a pilot. Amazon has big plans for the technology, though. The company says it will “start” in select Amazon Go stores before expanding to “additional Amazon stores,” which could mean bookshops or Whole Foods Market locations, “in the coming months.” It will also offer the service to third-party retailers and other businesses that might find the technology beneficial. I know what you’re thinking: why palms? Well, Amazon believes that it offers more privacy than other biometric methods because you can’t figure out a person’s identity with a palm image alone.
“It also requires someone to make an intentional gesture by holding their palm over the device to use,” Dilip Kumar, vice president for physical retail and technology at Amazon said. “And it’s contactless, which we think customers will appreciate, especially in current times. Ultimately, using a palm as a biometric identifier puts customers in control of when and where they use the service.” Some will undoubtedly worry about how Amazon plans to store and potentially monetize this data. In his blog post, Kumar said that palm images will be encrypted on a “highly secure area in the cloud,” and never locally on a store scanner. Customers can also delete their Amazon One-related data at any time via one.amazon.com.