Amazon.com Inc said it is rolling out biometric technology at its Whole Foods stores around Seattle starting on Wednesday, letting shoppers pay for items with a scan of their palm.
The move shows how Amazon is bringing some of the technology already in use at its namesake brick-and-mortar Go and Books stores to the grocery chain it acquired in 2017.
The system, called Amazon One, lets customers associate a credit card with their palm print. It offers a contact-less alternative to cash and card payments, Amazon said.
The deployment stops short of introducing Amazon's cashier-less technology at Whole Foods, which critics have said would result in job cuts. Amazon One still requires scanning items at checkout, and the company said it will not impact jobs at Whole Foods.
Amazon said its biometric technology will be live at a Whole Foods near its headquarters in Seattle on Wednesday and will expand to seven more stores in the metro area in coming months.
"At Whole Foods Market, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers," said Arun Rajan, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer at Whole Foods Market.
"Working closely with Amazon, we’ve brought benefits like Prime member discounts, online grocery delivery and pickup, and free returns to our customers, and we’re excited to add Amazon One as a payment option beginning today. We’re starting with an initial store at Madison Broadway in Seattle and look forward to hearing what customers think as we expand this option to additional stores over time," Rajan added.
Amazon One, launched in September of last year, is available as a payment option at several Amazon stores in the Seattle area, including Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery, Amazon Books, Amazon 4-star, and Amazon Pop Up.
The vision technology in Amazon One creates a palm signature to process payments by evaluating distinct identifiers on a person's palm when it is held against the device.
Amazon added that the technology is secure and has multiple security controls. The images of customers' palms are never stored on the Amazon One device, the company said. The images are encrypted and sent sent to a highly secure area custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where palm signatures are created.
If customers wish to discontinue the service, it allows them to delete their biometric data by un-enrolling from any Amazon One device or via the online customer portal at one.amazon.com.