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You can now pay at Whole Foods in New York with a wave of your hand: technology reads your palmprint


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Whole Foods shoppers in New York City recently noticed a curious new way to pay for their groceries. According to New York Post, you just need to swipe your hand over the reader instead of using a card or phone.

According to Amazon One, the technology works by analyzing a person's unique skin pattern and "core vein structure" and then linking that "palm signature" to their Prime account and payments. The technology has been in development since 2020, but Amazon announced last summer that it would be rolled out by the end of the year.

“I've never seen this before,” noted 28-year-old Christian Keenan during a visit to the Wall Street store on Friday, February 2. “This is the first time I’ve encountered this.”

“I'm confused,” said Troy Bechet, 60, who visited the Bryant Park store. – It doesn’t scare me. I need to do more research.”

Customer MJ Jerwinski paid with her hand at the same store and said she had been using it since the fall. “I like it, I don’t mind having all my information collected,” she admitted. - I don't care. It's just a lot easier."

Is it safe

This payment option is now available at every Whole Foods in the United States, at the Hudson Nonstop store in Terminal A of Newark Liberty International Airport, at three Crunch Fitness locations in New York City, and at other locations and stadiums across the country.

While Whole Foods chief technology officer Leandro Balbinot said in a statement that “shoppers love the convenience this provides,” not all Americans agree.

“It's pretty cool and much faster,” says 35-year-old Paresh Nag. He is even ready to use this device someday. “But right now I’m not sure how safe it is.”

On the subject: Is Amazon Prime worth the money spent on it: assessing the benefits of subscription

Estella Puertas, 56, didn't notice Amazon One while shopping near Bryant Park. She's worried that the scan might not be good enough to see her hand.

Amazon notes on its website that biometric data (fingerprint-like characteristics used for automatic recognition) is not used for tracking or market research and will not be shared with the government unless required by law.

Data leak

Lisa Palmer, chief artificial intelligence strategist at consultancy AI Leaders, cautioned that the fine print could change at any time - for any reason - at the company's discretion. “In the beginning, you plan to use it to make payments, but we have no idea what it will ultimately be used for,” she stressed. “Once you have submitted your palm print, you no longer control your biometric identity.”

Palmer reading could become as ubiquitous as a Social Security number, Palmer said, but she worries about how securely the data is stored. Amazon has assured that images of people's palms and veins are "encrypted and sent to a high-security area" and only selected employees have access to them.

But Palmer cited numerous data breaches in recent years, citing a devastating cyberattack that took down a Las Vegas casino last summer and another recent attack that severely disrupted Clorox's business.

“The question now is not whether the security of your data will be compromised, but when it will happen,” she assured. According to Palmer, biometric data can be compromised through cyber theft, something that nearly half of the American population has experienced at one time or another.

Replacing Apple Pay

Jerwinski, however, isn't too worried about her data being stolen. “I just thought Amazon is a big enough company that they should do the right thing or risk lawsuits,” she said. “I don’t think it poses any more risk than any other security breach, whether it’s theft of your wallet, card or bank account information.”

Amazon One may be trying to outdo other virtual transaction methods such as Apple Pay, which about 2022% of iPhone users have signed up for in 75, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Our data shows that 95% of the time, once people sign up for Amazon One and use it, they don’t go back to their previous authentication method,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon vice president.

But some New Yorkers don't believe it. “I use my phone, I use my card. I don’t need anything else,” said 26-year-old Nick Giannachi during a trip to Whole Foods Bryant Park.

Teji Clark, 47, of Brooklyn, while shopping at a store on Wall Street, also shared his opinion: “This information is too important to disclose. This is not for me".


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