Surprise/not-surprise! Amazon, Google, and other tech giants continue to look for and find ways to integrate themselves into your daily life. Typically the use of big data is involved.
Currently, Amazon is in the patent process for a “non-contact biometric identification system” to permit shoppers to pay for purchases using only their palm print. Designed for use in bricks and mortar stores, this new point of pay system would eliminate the need for shoppers to physically have their credit card, phone, or other electronically chipped device or product with them at the time of payment.
Theoretically the process would work something like this:
Cardholders would have their hand scanned at a kiosk or similar terminal and then link their handprint to a credit or debit card. From that point forward, in-person payments could be made by simply placing all or perhaps part of the hand on the in-store scanner.
So Many Questions, But Let’s Start with Why
Yes, Amazon is a seller of goods, but it also derives HUGE revenues from selling both subscription services and advertising. What the online colossus might lose in making it easier for consumers to make purchases at a bricks and mortar competitor is outweighed by the value of the consumer data it would glean from each transaction processed.
What are you buying, when and where are you buying it, and how much more could Amazon be charging you directly for this item or charging the sellers who advertise and sell with them?
Before you protest that this is yet another big data invasion of privacy, remember that purchasing data is already available to Amazon and others including you if you’re interested. Access to consumer purchasing patterns via an Amazon-owned transaction platform would only serve to capture the data in-house rather than Amazon obtaining it through a third-party data provider.
Besides, a palm reader comes with plenty of convenience features for the end-user. Lost, stolen, or forgotten cards would be a thing of the past. All a shopper would theoretically ever need for completing a transaction would be his or her palm print. There might even be a day when you could link your left hand to your VISA card and your right to your AMEX. Or maybe each finger print could represent a different one of your cards which would potentially free you from ever carrying a wallet.
And don’t overlook spinoff applications. Technology that is used in one way, quickly gets adopted for other uses. Wouldn’t you actually LIKE to have your medical records and health insurance information accessible wherever and whenever you needed it?
…But Not So Fast
The tepid success of Amazon Pay digital wallet demonstrates that bricks and mortar stores have not exactly jumped at the opportunity to offer anything Amazon-branded in their storefronts. Amazon is, after all, the single biggest competitor for most retailers.
Likewise, banks and credit issuers still have decisions to make. Do they want to get onboard and link their credit products to an Amazon platform? Or, should they fight the concept, realizing that one day Amazon, Google Pay and other technology platforms may decide card issuers are middlemen that their monster-sized technology can do without.
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