You won’t have much trouble paying with your palm at the grocery store in the near future. Amazon now says it will bring its One Palm recognition technology to all Whole Foods Market stores in the US by the end of the year. As before, you can hover your palm over a reader to pay for purchases or use your Prime benefits. You won’t need to pull out your phone or wallet if you’re already registered online.
Amazon One is already available in over 200 stores in states like California, New York and Texas. The expansion will bring it to over 500 stores. The technology is also available in some third-party locations. You can buy beer at the Colorado Rockies stadium or get breakfast at a Panera Cafe.
The palm recognition system is billed as an advantage over tap-to-pay and other contactless systems that still require some sort of physical item, including Amazon’s Just Walk Out computer vision-based technology. It is also potentially useful for businesses. It ensures alcohol buyers are of legal age, and the deeper nature of the scans (which look at both the palm and the veins) create a unique vector “signature” that supposedly can’t be duplicated.
However, the approach has its critics. Activists have called on music venues and other venues to ditch Amazon One because of privacy and human rights concerns. While Amazon wants secure cloud storage for palm signatures as well as protection against tampering, opponents worry that governments could use the data to track protesters and marginalized people. Opponents are also concerned that hackers could still obtain and abuse the data.
The company is already facing legal trouble over its practices. A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges that Amazon violated New York City law by failing to clearly notify Go store shoppers that it was collecting biometric data, including palm prints. Amazon claims that One users are explicitly consenting to the data collection, but it is not clear that this is enough to comply with the legislation.