Amazon Trials Palm Scanner for Contactless Payments

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Amazon has unveiled a new biometric scanner it hopes will streamline contactless payment security and physical access for consumers and businesses.

Currently being trialled in a couple of Amazon Go stores in Seattle, the Amazon One scans the user’s palm as it is held above the device and identifies its unique vein patterns in order to match it with the correct pre-stored biometric details.

To register, users will first need to input their credit card in order to link it with their biometric palm image.

“We’ll start in select Amazon Go stores, where Amazon One will be added to the store’s entry gate as a convenient choice for customers to use to enter the store to shop,” the e-commerce giant wrote.

“In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system. Or, for entering a location like a stadium or badging into work, Amazon One could be part of an existing entry point to make accessing the location quicker and easier.”

However, security and privacy experts were not convinced. Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher, David Emm, argued that because Amazon One combines identification, authentication and authorization, the biometric and payment data stored by the firm will need to be very secure.

“Where identification and authentication are separate, for example where a biometric is used to identify you and a PIN is used to verify that identity, anyone stealing the biometric data wouldn't have a complete set of information or enough to steal people's money. But in the case of Amazon One, they would have everything they need,” he said.

“Much safer to keep the two things separate — biometric data to identify you and something else (such as a PIN) for authentication.”

Meanwhile, Big Brother Watch director, Silkie Carlo, decried Amazon’s efforts “to fill the market with invasive, dystopian technologies that solve non-existent problems.”

A recent report from UK Finance said fraudsters are increasingly eschewing face-to-face transactions in favor of more online activity, as a result of the pandemic. Losses to contactless fraud fell 20% year-on-year in 1H 2020 to £8.2 million, it claimed.

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