FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Grocer Experiments with Pay-By-Finger

The Thriftway chain of grocery stores has been experimenting with touch-based payment systems at their checkout lines in Seattle since 2002... and considers the system a resounding success.

Using biometric technology from a firm named Pay By Touch, Thriftway uses fingerprints to link customers to credit or debit information. The pilot was originally slated to run for 60 days in 2002, but it was so successful that Thriftway made the checkout system permanent.

Thriftway claims that its customers have overwhelmingly embraced the system. Not only does the chain claim never to have had a fradulent transaction since the system was implemented, but Thriftway believes that the biometric system is more secure -- to both the store and its customers -- than other payment systems.

The keys to success, says Thriftway president Paul Kapiowski, are to educate customers, explain the benefits and to dispel fears early. According to Kapiowski, one demographic that has enthusiastically embraced the system are senior citizens, who feel vulnerable venturing outside with lots of cash or credit cards.

Thriftway's apparent success with this technology may well encourage other retailers to roll it out, especially if it's such a hit with customers. This May, the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain will deploy Pay By Touch readers to its stores in South Carolina and Georgia.

Source: C|Net