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Video: People are swiping their palms to pay for groceries

Whole Foods Market in Boulder, Colo. (Google Maps/Released)
February 03, 2023

Some people are embracing a new payment method that allows them to pay for groceries and at other retail stores by swiping their palms.

A woman recently shared a video of how it works, using the feature to pay for her recent grocery haul at Whole Foods.

The palm-scanning payment method was developed by Amazon. A user can fairly easily insert their credit card at an Amazon One kiosk and scan their palm print. The kiosk is then able to link that person’s palmprint to their bank account. From there, a palm pay user can simply wave there hand over an Amazon One scanner at any participating stores, and the scanner will draw the payment from their bank account.

Amazon unveiled the palmprint-based biometric payment technology in 2020, and has slowly introduced it in more places.

The palm pay method is available at some Amazon Go and Whole Foods locations. The technology giant acquired Whole Foods in 2017.

While the feature seems to offer a few seconds of added convenience for a shopper checking out in the grocery line, some privacy advocates worry about giving up biometric data like a palmprint.

In August 2021, Amazon began offering people a $10 credit to adopt the new biometric payment method, TechCrunch reported at the time. After Amazon introduced that incentive program, Congress began asking the technology company what it plans to do with all of the biometric data it’s collecting.

“Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for this data and its respect for user privacy, including about how Amazon may use the data for advertising and tracking purposes,” Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) wrote in a letter to the company.

The senators asked Amazon whether it uses the palmprints to personalize advertising to users and whether the company links up Amazon One palmprint data with other biometric data. The company also asked what privacy information they provide to users and how the company protects the biometric data it has stored.

Biometric verification systems are increasingly being introduced into American’s everyday lives. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), recently began using a facial recognition scanning system in 16 U.S. airports.