Grocer Implements Payment by Fingerprint

May 02, 2002

Yesterday, the West Seattle Thriftway became the first in the country to unveil a system by Indivos Corp. that allows customers to pay by finger touch to an electronic sensor, which links fingerprints to credit cards or checking accounts, according to reports in the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The system uses biometrics technology traditionally used in security-screening applications. By noon, more than 150 people had their index fingers scanned in the store and had registered their credit or debit cards. Shoppers who signed up were split between which benefit they liked best, security or convenience. “It is a hassle to have to pull out your cards. This will be much more convenient,” says Pearl McElheran, who also notes that the new system is a little bit complicated.

Store Owner Paul Kapioski says that the new system is expected to speed up checkout lines and save on credit card fees. Each credit card swipe costs about $1.10, according to Kapioski. He says that 70 percent of his customers use plastic cards to pay for their groceries.

Indivos says it won’t sell, rent, license or share personal data it collects with third parties. The program had been tested at fast-food restaurants in San Francisco and Fresno, Calif. And another company, Biometric Access Corp., is testing the same system in some Texas Kroger grocery stores. Indivos is suing that company for copyright infringement.

Moderator Comment: Will the majority of consumers
accept biometric technology for payment id and security purposes?

We clearly do not fall into the Orwellian phobic camp
here. We’re okay with big brother looking over our shoulders as long as we know
he’s watching. We do have a problem with things taking too long to do, however.
Not having seen the Indivos or other systems at work, we won’t rush to judgement.
That said, if we’re giving out our fingerprint for commercial purposes, it better
save us time, money or preferably both. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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