Amazon One is a “Pay by Palm” Contactless Payment Solution

Palm scans will be paired with credit cards in an encrypted, cloud-based system to enable cashierless check-out.

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Need to Know

  • Amazon One will let people use their palm to contactlessly issue payments, present a loyalty card, or enter a venue.
  • Amazon will be implementing the devices at Amazon Go stores; the device could later be used at the POS stations of third-party retailers.
  • The company says palm recognition is more secure than other biometric alternatives, such as facial recognition, as it does not reveal the identity.
  • Those who want to use Amazon One can sign up in less than a minute at participating Amazon Go stores by scanning their palm and inserting a credit card.

Analysis

Amazon has upped the ante in the world of contactless payments, announcing a new device, Amazon One, that will allow users to issue payments, collect loyalty card points, and enter buildings by scanning the palm of their hand.

Amazon One is a small device with space for a card to be inserted, and a scanner above which a user’s palm is held. In order to sign up for the palm-scanning service, users need to insert a credit card and hover their palm over the device’s scanner, in order to associate their biometric identity with their credit card number, which will enable secure payments. According to a press release announcing Amazon One, this process takes roughly a minute. Users of Amazon One don’t need to be Amazon account-holders; all they need is a credit card, phone number, and…well, a palm.

Amazon One in action.

In the press release announcing Amazon One, Amazon says it chose palm recognition because it is more private than biometric alternatives—such as facial recognition, for instance—”because you can’t determine a person’s identity by looking at an image of their palm.” Palm images are not stored on an Amazon One device, but instead are encrypted and sent to a secure, custom-built area in the cloud. Amazon believes that, in addition to this, the fact that a user must make an intentional gesture (holding out their palm) to access the service puts customers in full control of when they use Amazon One.

Amazon One is currently available at two Amazon Go stores in Seattle, where interested users can sign up for the service and use it to enter those stores. Amazon says it plans to make Amazon Go available to third-party retailers interested in using the technology alongside their existing point-of-sale systems, in addition to incorporating payment and loyalty card capabilities into Amazon Go stores in the future.

Amazon has been working on “cashierless” technology since at least March of this year when it unveiled a concept called Just Walk Out. That technology, which Amazon made available to small retailers at the time, enabled customers to enter a store by swiping a credit card, after which a series of cameras, sensors, and deep learning tracks what items they put into a shopping cart. The consumer can then, as the name implies, just walk out of the store without the need to see a cashier.

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