TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Supermarket: Let Your Fingers do the Paying

Re: Supermarket: Let Your Fingers do the Paying

Robert Bonomi (
Thu, 03 Feb 2005 03:46:00 -0000

In article <>,
Monty Solomon <> wrote:

> By Jo Best
> Story last modified Tue Feb 01 12:18:00 PST 2005

> A supermarket has given its customers the choice of paying by
> fingerprint at a store in the state of Washington -- and has found them
> surprisingly willing to use the biometric system.

> U.S. chain Thriftway introduced the system, which uses technology from
> Pay By Touch , in its store in the Seattle area in 2002. It said it
> now sees thousands of transactions a month using the payment method.

> Once people have enrolled in the Pay By Touch system, they have their
> fingerprint scanned as verification of identity at the checkout. They
> then choose which credit card they want to pay the bill with, having
> already registered the credit cards with the store.

> Thriftway President Paul Kapioski said rather than shying away from
> the technology because of concerns about protecting their privacy,
> customer demand ensured that the biometric payment system made it past
> the pilot stage.


> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I do not understand one thing: If
> people have already been verified as to their ability and
> willingness to pay for their groceries through their credit card
> and their personal identification has been verified in much the same
> way by the credit card people, then *why* would people want to go one
> step further by enrolling in 'Pay by Touch'? Is this intended as one
> way to 'save them time' by not having to sign a credit card slip? In
> other words, touch your thumb or finger somewhere rather than taking
> a couple seconds to sign a slip of paper? Now, if the grocery people
> had set up their own credit system *in place of Visa/MC* by using a
> thumb/finger print, I can see where that might be useful, but
> otherwise, why bother? PAT]

Gee, I dunno.

Like maybe you _don't_ have to have your card, *or* card number, with

Like, no hassles if the mag stripe doesn't read.

Like, no opportunity for a dishonest cashier to memorize the number
off your card.

Like, maybe, *nobody*else* can buy anything with that card number at
that store. i.e., if it's a 'pay by touch' card, "no touchee, no
tickee", and if the fingerprint _doesn't_ match, "no sale".

You're right, I can't see why anybody would *consider* bothering to do
something like that.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, let's see ... maybe I was caught
shoplifting at a grocery store in Iraq or Iran and the Taliban chopped
off all my fingers as part of the punishment. And one of the terms
for accepting MC/Visa cards required by many/most/all of the card
issuers is that the store is *not* permitted to demand any other form
of identification. The card is to stand on its own regards ID, *if the
holder is using it for payment*. So your 'no touch, no sale' idea is
not possible in many stores. I can see where fingerprints might be
used in lieu of an actual plastic but I do not think it can be a
requirement *in addition to* plastic. And when a clerk is caught
making an unauthorized sale using someone else's card the answer is
simple also. Fire and presecute them. PAT]

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