Amazon on Tuesday is unveiling a new biometric technology called Amazon One that allows shoppers to pay at stores by placing their palm over a scanning device when they walk in the door or when they check out. The first time they register to use this tech, a customer will scan their palm and insert their payment card at a terminal; after that, they can simply pay with their hand. The hand-scanning tech isn’t just for Amazon’s own stores — the company hopes to sell it to other retailers, including competitors, too.
There are many reasons I’m very against this. Amazon’s storing your palm print data in the cloud. They say it’s secure and encrypted, but they don’t say they can’t access the data. (By contrast, Apple stores biometric data, such as fingerprints and face scans, in an encrypted chip on the device, which no one — including Apple — has access to.) If Amazon has internal access to this data, they could potentially provide it to law enforcement, an organization Amazon has a history of voluntarily sharing data with. And although it appears you don’t actually touch the scanner with your palm, but still, ew.
I can understand Amazon’s thought process here: They want to process more payments, because that’s a way to make money and track shopping trends. They’ve failed to sell phones, so now they’re trying to setup shop directly in the store. It’s a clever attempt at transitioning from digital to physical space, and maybe enough stores and shoppers buy into it, but Amazon is asking a lot here.