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Amazon Will Let Whole Foods Shoppers Pay With a Palm Scan

By Danny Vena - Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 4:05PM

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The tech takes digital payments to a Whole (Foods) new level.

Amazon (AMZN 0.16%) announced this week that it will begin using biometric technology that will allow Whole Foods customers at the Madison Broadway store in Seattle to pay for purchases with a scan of their palm print. The system, dubbed Amazon One, allows users to link a credit card account to their palm print, which they can then use as a payment method.  

Other Whole Foods stores will offer the tech in coming months, and this is likely just the beginning. Amazon plans to license the technology, which it believes will have a wide range of uses for payments and access, including at brick-and-mortar retail stores, stadiums, and office buildings.

A woman holding her palm over an laser scanner.

Image source: Amazon.

Amazon One was originally rolled out at two of the company's cashierless Amazon Go stores in Seattle to facilitate entry. In order to sign up, customers simply insert a credit card into the reader, hold their flat palm above the device, then follow prompts to associate the card with their palm print. Amazon One uses computer vision technology to map the lines and ridges of the palm print, creating a unique digital signature in real time. Once sign-up is complete, customers merely hold their palm above the contactless scanning device at checkout to facilitate payment. 

The e-commerce giant developed the system as a way to improve on existing user experiences, including paying at the checkout counter, using a loyalty card, entering a location, or flashing a badge at work. Amazon described the tech as a "quick, reliable, and secure way for people to identify themselves or authorize a transaction while moving seamlessly through their day."

The technology is available to anyone with a mobile phone number and a credit card, even customers without an Amazon account. But those with accounts will be able to log in, manage personal information, and have access to usage history -- something its e-commerce customers use now.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1920.0 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1940.0 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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