Amazon Accepting Palm-Scanning Payments in Austin, Texas

Controversial technology has only ever been used in one other location and is still somewhat mistrusted by consumers.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Whole Foods shoppers in Austin, Texas can now pay using their palms, according to Reclaim The Net
  • The service allows those using Amazon One devices to link the payment system to a palm signature, which allows them to pay with a debit or credit card. 
  • Austin and Seattle, Washington are currently the only two places where Amazon One is available, with both cities’ Whole Foods installing the technology. 
  • Several senators, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Ossof (D-GA), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to Amazon questioning how the company might be collecting personal data through their Amazon One systems. 
STATEMENTS FROM AMAZON AND LAWMAKERS:
  • “Amazon One is all about making everyday activities, like paying at a store, easier and more convenient for customers,” an Amazon representative said. 
  • “We built Amazon One to offer a quick, reliable, and secure way for people to identify themselves or authorize a transaction while moving seamlessly through their day.”
  • While unveiling the technology in 2020, Amazon said: “Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls. The images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where we create your palm signature.”
  • In response to use of the scanners, the senators’ letter pointed out that, “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.”
BACKGROUND:
  • While there are only two grocery stores using the technology, Amazon itself has used it internally for some time. 
  • Other locations, including a Colorado event venue, have used Amazon’s technology as a contact-free way of scanning entrances. 
  • The scanners reportedly identify users by capturing the vein patterns in their palms, allowing for delineation between users.