Amazon One Payment Feature

Amazon One

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Forget tapping your card to pay for a weekly grocery haul. Amazon One, a palm recognition service from Amazon Web Services, enables shoppers to pay for their groceries with just their hand. The service recently reached over three million uses across the U.S. 

In response to this milestone, Whole Foods Market unveiled that it has ramped up its partnership with Amazon One to extend its functionalities across all its U.S. locations by the end of the year (it is currently available in select Whole Foods locations). But how does the technology work, and is it safe? Here's everything you need to know.

How Does Amazon One Work?

Instead of fumbling through wallets and phones, customers can hover their palms over an Amazon One device for identification, payment, and even to access Prime membership benefits. Prime members who link their Amazon One profile to their Amazon accounts can also snag additional savings that are automatically applied at checkout. 

But does this mean the company inserts a chip in your hand? No. Using advanced imaging and computer vision algorithms, Amazon One's technology captures and encrypts unique features in your palm to generate a distinctive palm signature every time you use the service. 

Through collaborations with major financial institutions such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, and several other U.S. banks, Amazon One is accessible to these cardholders.

Related: 30 Worst Things About Credit Card Companies

Revolutionary or Creepy?

Amazon One is already available in more than 200 Whole Foods locations across U.S. states, including: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. 

"Since we've introduced Amazon One at Whole Foods Market stores over the past two years, we’ve seen that customers love the convenience it provides, and we’re excited to bring Amazon One to all of our customers across the U.S," said Whole Foods Market's chief technology officer, Leandro Balbinot.

In addition, multiple sports arenas, entertainment venues, and convenience stores have also picked up Amazon One as a payment and identification option. Among them are Panera Bread's loyalty program and Aramark Sports + Entertainment at Coors Field. The feature enables customers who are 21 years old or older to buy alcoholic drinks by scanning their palms on an Amazon One device, and eliminates the need to present government-issued identification.

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Fingerprint Biometric Authentication Button. Digital Security ConceptPhoto credit: da-kuk/istockphoto

How Do I Sign Up, and Is It Safe?

For first-time users, Amazon One's registration process is pretty straightforward. Users can pre-enroll online and finalize the registration in-store by scanning their palm over an Amazon One device. Once registered, Amazon Prime members will automatically see their Prime benefits reflected on their purchases.

Amazon One says it ensures robust data security. It safeguards customer palm data in the AWS Cloud, which is backed by an array of cloud security tools and partners. The system also features numerous security controls and tamper-detection capabilities.

Businessman scans fingerprint to unlock security system Internet storage and financial systems Banking and personal informationPhoto credit: The best photo for all/istockphoto

The Bottom Line

Despite reminding us of an outlandish sci-fi movie, we can't deny Amazon One is changing the game. By harnessing advanced technology to recognize your unique palm print, Amazon One is emerging as a convenient payment feature for businesses and customers — bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "talk to the hand." 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Amazon One? 

Amazon One is an identification and payment system that uses unique palm features, such as surface patterns and vein structures, to identify users and generate an exclusive palm signature for each person.

Is Amazon One safe?

Amazon One creates a unique, non-permanent digital palm signature for identification. By examining the palm and vein structure, the technology generates a signature that can't be falsely duplicated, like a credit card or password. Furthermore, this signature can be reset and regenerated — ensuring flexible and secure identification. In an effort to protect personal information, Amazon One doesn't store data on any device. 

Why did Amazon One choose palm recognition over biometrics?

According to the company, it chose palm recognition for its privacy, control, and safety features. Unlike other biometrics, palm images don't reveal identity, and usage requires a deliberate gesture (hovering over an Amazon One device), making it contactless and customer-centric.

Is Amazon One free to use?

Yes. Amazon One is free for all customers to use.

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