Seattle Whole Foods stores will soon feature Amazon’s hand-scanning payments tech

Amazon is bringing Amazon One, its hand-scanning payment technology, to Whole Foods stores in Seattle and plans to roll out the system in more Whole Foods locations throughout the area, per CNBC. After customers register in the system and connect their card information with their palm print, they can use Amazon One to make contactless payments by hovering their hand over a scanner. The introduction of Amazon One into Whole Foods stores follows the system’s expansion into Amazon 4-star and Books stores in the Seattle area last month.

Bringing Amazon One into more stores lets the etail giant market its tech solutions to retailers—an initiative it’s been pushing for the last year. Amazon has been focusing more on in-store retail, specifically on building solutions that it can license out to brick-and-mortar businesses, as a growth opportunity—likely because the majority of US retail sales still occur offline. The etailer also has Just Walk Out, its autonomous checkout solution that it says can be used in stores, stadiums, and other venues. And recently, Amazon announced the launch of its first hair salon, which will feature augmented reality and point-and-learn technology—an offering that lets customers point to a product on a display shelf to bring up product information, brand videos, and tutorials on a nearby display—which it could license out to businesses in the beauty industry. Similarly, bringing Amazon One into Whole Foods locations lets the etailer prove the technology’s utility, which might encourage merchants to use the offering in their own stores.

Amazon faces consumer and merchant adoption obstacles that might stand in the way of its retail tech-licensing business.

  • Not all consumers are on board with biometric payments. Some consumers have security concerns when it comes to biometric payments and might be wary of giving Amazon their handprint information. But other consumers may jump at the opportunity to use Amazon One considering how popular contactless payments have become during the pandemic—it’s also one of the first times a biometric payments offering will be available at a mainstream US retail store.
  • Merchants may be wary of bringing Amazon into their stores. It’s unknown if and how Amazon will store customer payment data, but it’s possible merchants that view the etailer as a major competitor may not be so keen on giving Amazon this type of customer information for fear that it could be used against them. However, some merchants might overlook this concern and choose to use the tech to draw in customers—Amazon says it’s in active discussions with several potential customers to license out the tech.