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Palm Reading Technology For Payments: Amazon Has Done It Again

Headlines don’t really impress us anymore. 2020 has been something of a “Black Mirror” episode so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we have become desensitized to the “abrupt”, the “extreme” and the “abnormal”. 

In saying that, when Amazon announces Amazon One, a new biometric technology that allows people to pay with their palm, we will pay attention. 

Palm reading payment technology is not novel as an idea. The benefits of using biometric technologies to confirm digital payments are not conjecture, but facts. What has been the challenge surrounding this technology, is the actual implementation. 

Designing and implementing biometric technology that is both functional and safe. When Amazon enters the biometric dance, you know that things are serious. 

How Does Amazon One Work? 

If you’re expecting technology terms you will have to research in order to understand how Amazon One works, you’re in for a surprise. This technology works as simply as biometric technologies should work. 

Here are the steps: 

  • First, you register by inserting a payment card into a reader—one time only
  • Put your palm over the scanner when you walk in or out of the store
  • This technology is available to use at the two cashier-less Amazon Go stores near the company’s Seattle headquarters

For an easier and admittedly more fun way of understanding how Amazon One works, here’s a video

So Can I Only Use This At Amazon Go Stores?

For now, yes. But as you can imagine, there’s a bigger play in store. Amazon’s real plan is to license the tech to other retailers, and oh yes, that includes some of its big rivals. 

The technology will be able to work without an Amazon account or an Amazon Go store infrastructure. The technology could be stripped down to work with only a mobile phone and credit card.

Here’s how Dilip Kumar, Vice President Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon views the technology:

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.

As it becomes very apparent, the Amazon Go stores will be used as test labs, as case studies of how effective the technology is in order to facilitate a bigger, market-wide rollout. 

The technology is not limited to the payment realm. It is versatile and malleable enough to be used as an alternative to work-related ID cards, as a ticketing option for live events, stadiums or arenas.

Why Palm And Not Face? 

Biometric recognition technology could mean anything from touch, voice, face or iris. Why did Amazon choose to go with palm?

The answer is the following: because the palm is considered the most accurate biometric modality. Research has proven again and again that touch is the most secure and accurate modality. 

Here’s why:

  • Vein pattern does not change through a person’s lifetime 
  • User friendly
  • Cost effective 

Face recognition for instance is mainly used in private scenarios such as mobile phones. Whilst that works and ticks all the boxes, its usability depreciates when you put it in the context of public usage. 

Can you imagine standing in line for face recognition at a stadium concert or football game? 


Biometrics are no longer ideas, developmental plans or MVPs. Amazon has rolled out a fully functional product and it won’t be long before we think of credit cards, the same way we think about bank notes. 

Remember this headline as it might be the beginning of  new era for everyone with digital identification systems and biometric technology entering our life for good.