A whole new meaning to Five-Finger discount.
Large tech companies have become a modern Santa of sorts. They know when you are sleeping, they know when you’re awake (based on the sleeping patterns of users your age, gender, area, etc.), and they’ll bring you presents for playing by their rules. Only, the presents aren’t free. You just paid for them with your hand.
This isn’t some philosophical rant on how the services we use online for ‘free’ aren’t truly free, as we pay for them with our personal information (I digress). No, this is a very real statement about how Amazon would like to turn your hand into a method of payment, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The idea is you no longer have to fumble with your things at the checkout counter while you look for your credit card or phone to pay the patient-yet-quietly-condescending cashier. A simple scan of your hand will take your hard-earned money and deposit it into the establishment.
On the surface, we agree, that sounds like a fantastic idea. I can forget my wallet and my phone in the car and still buy this candy bar? Well blimey, sign me up!
But let’s ease off the accelerator a little and see where this is actually going. For starters, this is just another development in the recent trend of large tech. corporations diving into the financial services sector. Apple and Google both have their own payment systems, Apple Pay and Google Pay. The latter, in addition, wants to start offering its users access to chequing account services.
Let’s not forget Facebook, who tried to create their own crypto-currency, Libra. While the first iterations of Libra have been an utter failure, we will give them bonus points for at least coming up with a name that wasn’t bland like Facebook Pay or FaceBucks. Actually, that last one kind of has a ring to it. And what a perfect segway back to paying with your body (no pun intended).
Amazon is currently developing the technology alongside VISA, and are in talks with various credit card companies, including MasterCard, J.P Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Synchrony Financial. The technology, which is currently filed for a patent as a “non-contact biometric identification system,” would create a scan of your hand, and verify your purchase at brick and mortar shops.
The technology would not be exclusive to Amazon-owned stores. Ironically, Amazon’s brick and mortar locations (excluding their Whole Foods subsidiary) all feature no cashiers at all. In fact, there are no payment terminals. Patrons simply walk in, grab what they need, and walk out. The store tracks what items were picked up and charges the person’s Amazon account. Patrons tap their phone when entering to register their account.
And just like how they track users in their own store, users of Amazon’s hand-scan payment system would unequivocally be tracked. Every single purchase made, whether online or in-store, would be used to create a profile that is in turn used to hyper-target advertisements and product recommendations.
While many argue that the resulting ads are more relevant and effective, others argue that the invasion of privacy is extremely dangerous and exacerbates a growing mass-consumerism modern world.
Which side of the fence do you stand on? Are you all in on the man knowing everything about you or are you wearing gloves everywhere you go now?