Amazon introduces new contactless way to pay

Technology

Amazon wants to read your palm. That’s the premise behind the company’s latest high tech payment system called “Amazon One.”

It’s currently available in more than sixty locations across the United States including Amazon Go stores, Amazon Fresh grocery stores, Whole Foods and Amazon’s assorted physical bookstore locations.

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It’s also installed as an entry option at the Red Rocks Ampitheater in Colorado.

Recently, Amazon invited me into their Century City bookstore to check out how the technology works.

To use Amazon One, there is an initial setup process, but it only takes a minute. You start by putting a card into the reader that’s already linked to your Amazon account. A credit or debit card you’ve already used to shop on Amazon.

Next, you hover your palm over the reader. It takes a scan of one palm and then the other. There’s a nifty little animation on the screen to let you know how high to hover your hand and where.

Finally, you confirm your Amazon account on a computer screen and your card is now linked with your palm.

To test it out, I found a few things I’ve had my eye on in the Amazon store, including a four pack of smart plugs (great for automating holiday lights!), a book for my kid and some chip clips.

The cashier rang up my stuff and all I had to do was hover my hand over the reader. Within seconds, the transaction was complete.

I even tried it again by picking up an (overpriced) stuffed animal for my kid. To be fair, it’s a cute stuffed animal that transforms from mad to happy, so maybe it was worth the $15. Again, the payment process took just a second while I waved my hand over the reader. It felt too easy.

Amazon says they chose palm recognition over other forms of biometric identification since it’s a bit less creepy than other forms of ID like a fingerprint or iris scan. Something tells me people would have a bigger problem handing over that biometric info to one of the biggest companies in the world. (Smartphones that use this tech typically store it on device only)

The entire process is also contactless from start to finish, unlike tap to pay which often requires you to enter a PIN, sign or tap Credit or Debit on the screen. That makes zero sense in today’s COVID world.

Credit: Amazon

Amazon’s palm reading method is handy and fast, but its usefulness is limited if it’s only available in Amazon stores. Tap to pay is very secure, almost as fast and is more universally accessible.

Still, the idea that you can pay for items with the wave of a hand… no phone, wallet, or card necessary – is innovative and futuristic. Amazon is already licensing it’s “just walk out” tech to third party retailers, it seems like their goal is to do the same here to expand the reach of Amazon One.

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