Amazon’s Biometric Hand Credit Card Could be the Future of Grab and Go Shopping Experiences

Cash, plastic or hand, fools? In the future of payment options, in the West the simple hand may come before the QR codes arrive at this rate. Technology giant Amazon is working to allow customers to connect their credit card information to their hands.

Leave it to Amazon to think about biometric payments in new ways that feel less invasive than facial recognition technology.

Is the Future Credit Card your Hand?

Amazon is seeking a payments patent for hand recognition technology. This could also be a B2B payments play for Amazon if you think about. The tech giant, which is reportedly working with Visa, is creating checkout points which it hopes to sell to companies that do a lot of repeat business.

The WSJ journal didn’t break the story but covered it a week after the news was first reported. But personally I hate paywalls with a passion.

While Alibaba and their “new retail” having facial recognition payments already set up, Amazon thinks consumers would be able to link their credit card information to their hands, scanning their palms to pay for the items they’re purchasing.

The online retailer is in a race against other tech giants such as Apple to make transactions more seamless. Where Apple is teaming up with banks to create their own credit cards, I prefer the biometric take on payments to plastic or upgraded plastic or ApplePay and their clones.

While Facebook thinks Libra is the future, Amazon has discussed the hand payments project with the likes of Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Synchrony Financial. Visa is already an official partner by the looks of it.

AI a Palm Reader?

I’m much more at east with AI being my private palm reader than with facial recognition jolting me into my true encrypted identity, if you know what I mean? Amazon wants to patent technology that could identify shoppers by their hands, and overall that’s a good thing. We need biometric ID that’s fool-proof and also more privacy and security orientated.

In the era of IoT, payments need to be not just more convenient, but more secure and less prone to things like stolen plastic and identity theft.

The application filing does not mean the company is definitely developing such technology, but the New York Post reported in September that Amazon was testing technology that would allow shoppers to pay with their hands. All of this would of course complement AmazonGo like technologies that will one day also be used in bigger Whole Foods stores as well.

The Dec. 26 patent application describes “a scanner device [that] is used to obtain raw images of a user’s palm that is within a field of view of the scanner. Amazon has already filed a patent for a “non-contact biometric identification system” that features a “hand scanner” to produce a picture of a person’s palm and it makes you wonder about the future of retail and payments.

In 2020 will likely see Chinese paying with a digital RMB via facial recognition all over China. In the west we’re still mulling over what’s the next thing after plastic? A tale of two worlds to be sure, the QR code one seems much more facial recognition friendly.

Amazon has opened 24 Amazon Go locations in the US. I would not have guessed that by 2020 we’d only have two dozen such stores. Amazon is careful to file a lot of patents and see what works. An illustration associated with the patent application shows a person scanning their hand at an entrance gate that resembles the one in Amazon Go stores. Instead of check-out, this is more like check-in, and the rest is up to the LiDAR machine intelligence system of the store that replaces the modern cashier.

The alternative to your hand is the QR code. To carry around cash or plastic in the 2030s would be pretty morbid I suspect. However by then fiat will have gone fully digital in many ways and central banks pivot to the blockchain. How will biometric authentication work in tandem with voice commerce at home? It’s still not so clear even with companies like Baidu, Amazon, Google or Alibaba.

The WSJ reports that data collected from the terminals would be used to study spending habits and stored on Amazon’s cloud. Given Amazon’s behavior around privacy and in particular the Ring devices, you have to wonder at how its smart stores will change privacy and data sharing as we know it for unsuspecting shoppers, especially as Amazon improves its performance as a digital advertiser as the third horseman after Google and Facebook.

While Amazon’s plan is in the early stages, the company has reportedly begun working with Visa on testing out the terminals. Why is it less intrusive as well? Well the technology would identify people’s hands by analyzing characteristics like wrinkles, veins, and even bones. That sounds okay for my body and privacy.

The company previously filed a patent for a “non-contact biometric identification system” that features a “hand scanner” to produce a picture of a person’s palm. Again, I can tolerate that. I’d prefer big brother wasn’t always looking me in the eyes, but they can have my hands. This comes as Amazon plans to expand its chain of Amazon Go stores across the USA, which allow consumers to shop without cashiers or checkouts.

You want a retail apocalypse? Give me an AI that can manage and automate an entire store, not just reduce cashiers and retail associates. Give me fully automated stores where my smart fridge can order from a pre-ordained list what I need and robots can deliver it to my fridge all the while with my personal assistant over-seeing the customer experience. Heck, my hands don’t even have to be there!

However if Amazon could recognize me even from a distance by my hands, that’s a novel kind of data. It looks like Amazon is trying to create a new kind of technology for tracking shoppers. Who knows what the AI of the future will be able to tell about me just by my hands, likely more than I think in 2020.

Things like passports and credit cards have to be tied to biometric authentication ID points and hopefully multiple levels so as to prevent fraud and improve trust and security. Back on September 3rd, 2019 the NY Post published something about this.

Employees at Amazon’s New York offices are serving as guinea pigs for the biometric technology, using it at a handful of vending machines. What’s in a hand bro? Your credit card and your life it turns out.

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