Amazon One is called a new contactless electronic payment system that requires neither a plastic card nor a mobile phone, but simply the passage of the hand at the checkout over a new scanning device with advanced biometric identification capabilities.
The new Amazon One “reads” the image of the buyer’s palm, who holds his hand over the device for about a second.
As reported in the RES-IPA, the new technology will initially be tested at the company’s two stores in Seattle, according to the BBC, while Amazon has made it known that it is already in discussions with several potential customers to take advantage of the new contactless system in the future.
In addition to contactless payments, the Amazon One, according to the company, could be used to enter stadium spectators and employees into workplaces (instead of the usual card-ID the employee would simply shake his hand). “We believe Amazon One will find a wide range of apps beyond retail stores,” Amazon said.
Palm scanners are not a completely new technology and are mainly based on the identification of veins in the hand, which create a pattern constant in time and distinct for each finger and for each face. Because the veins are under the skin, it is very difficult to have malicious “counterfeiting” or theft. The security level is considered approximately proportional to that of fingerprints, but because scanning can be done intact from a distance of a few centimeters, palm scanning is more practical.
Amazon has not given details of how its new biometric system works, other than that it “incorporates its own development algorithms and hardware” and that it scans “distinct features both above and below the surface” of the hand. To become a user of the system, you don’t have to have an Amazon account, but you must first register a bank card online and then follow online instructions on how to link that card to their palm print, so that from now on they only pay by hand.
The company assured that the biometric footprint of the palm is encrypted and kept safely not in the device itself but in data centers in the “cloud”, while the user, whenever he wants, can delete these biometric elements of his hand.
But already, Big Brother Watch has accused Amazon of “continuing to feed the market with invasive and dystopiaan technologies that solve non-existent problems. No one should have to provide biometric data in order to buy products and services. Amazon’s effort to introduce biometric payment and monitoring devices creates a world in which our movements are more easily monitored and recorded, which inevitably takes power away from citizens.”