Last updated on March 9th, 2020
A new biometric credit card scanner from Amazon is reportedly in the works, representing the company’s latest attempt to revolutionize the way we pay. If successful, this technology would turn a cardholder’s own hand into a quick and easy payment method.
The current wave of contactless payment options has yet to produce such an option. At the moment, cardholders still need some sort of object – a credit card, cell phone, or wearable – to complete their transactions. If these were eliminated, it could further improve payment security and make checkout times even shorter. Yet some may be wondering: At what cost?
How Will the Amazon Hand Scanner Work?
Sources close to Amazon say the e-commerce giant is developing a checkout terminal that processes payments with customers’ palm scans. The company recently applied for a patent on the technology, though it has not released an official statement.
Since the project is still in the earliest stages of development, not much is known about how it will work. To use the hand scanner from Amazon, cardholders would likely need to set up the link between their palms and credit cards first.
Some say this will involve inserting a credit card and allowing the terminal to take an image of your hand. This scan would then be linked to the credit card information provided. Going forward, cardholders would simply hold their hands above the machine in order to initiate a payment.
Amazon Biometric Payment vs Contactless Pay
Moving credit card payment technology in this direction has plenty of potential benefits, and it’s not exactly a foreign concept. A few years ago, several credit card companies began developing technology that would integrate fingerprint scanning into each card. At the time, the result was pricey, complex, and didn’t quite pan out.
Contactless pay is the closest comparison to–date, allowing cardholders to pay with a tap of their card, cell phone, Apple watch or other wearable against the checkout terminal. With the Amazon hand scanner, however, shoppers wouldn’t need a card – or any other device – at all. No more digging around for wallets or fumbling with the swipe system. This could help cardholders avoid misplaced credit cards, as well as shorten wait times at the checkout even more.
Revolutionary or Invasive?
This isn’t the first time Amazon has gotten into the credit card game or proposed new and unique payment technology. Back in 2016, the company unveiled the Amazon Go store in Seattle. The concept allows shoppers to pick up the items they want without going through a formal checkout.
With the Amazon biometric payment method, this idea could expand into other stores, and consumers – as well as credit card issuers – aren’t sure how to feel about it. On one hand, it could simplify the checkout process. Yet questions remain, such as how many credit cards can you assign to each palm image? How you would select the one you want to pay with?
Amazon will have to get both issuers and consumers on board for this technology to take off. Otherwise, it might only reach Amazon cardholders, like those with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature®. Both issuers and cardholders also wonder how secure this technology will be, since it will rely on storing customer data in the Amazon cloud.
Not only that, but Amazon may also collect data on shopping habits to further improve advertising strategies. More consumers these days express concerns about this type of data collection and storage. Similarly, issuers worry about how this new technology would protect against fraud.