Amazon Palm PaymentUsing Palm-Vein Mapping Technology to Enable Contactless Payments

September 27, 2022 | 12 min read

Amazon Palm Payment

In a Nutshell

Once upon a time, the idea of using one’s thumbprint, iris, or another body part to make a purchase would seem like pure science fiction. Well... not anymore. Amazon palm payment technology is here, but are you ready for it? This article will examine the finer points of palm mapping payment technology, how Amazon is taking charge, and why you should consider it for your business.

Introducing Amazon Palm Payment Technology: A New Payments Security Tool

New, tech-forward fraud tools can drastically increase payment security, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline checkout. Retail giant Amazon is now leading the charge, taking payments security to the next level with their new Amazon One technology.

Amazon One is the company’s answer to the demand for advanced contactless payments. The technology uses palm scanning biometrics to verify buyers during a transaction. The stated intent here is to simplify, speed up, and secure the contactless payment process for all participating merchants.

No doubt recognizing rising commercial and consumer interest in biometric payments, Amazon moved to implement the most advanced biometric payment on the market as quickly as possible. As a result, Amazon One became available in Amazon Go stores in 2020 and has since expanded to Whole Foods stores in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle. Amazon One is also available at participating Amazon Style, and Amazon Fresh locations around the US, with more expected to follow.

For consumers, the intention is to encourage sanitary payments, increase consumer protections, and streamline the checkout process. After all, it doesn’t get much easier than holding one’s palm over a small scanner to make payments. However, there are still some consumer hesitations about technologies like palm-vein mapping, fingerprint-scanning cards, and biometric payments in general.

Is the public ready for palm payment technology? Are other merchants prepared for a more biometric-enabled future? Let’s find out.

What is Palm Payment Technology?

To get a complete understanding of how Amazon palm payments function, we should first examine how the technology works.

A palm vein scan uses infrared light to map the unique vein structures in your palm, then converts these data points into encrypted code. It lets specialized biometric payment scanners map and digitally render the unique vein structures in your palm or wrist. The palm-vein scanner then transforms the 500 million data points it reads into a unique encrypted code that will become your biometric ID.

The main difference between palm-vein mapping and other biometric security systems is the fact that it is internal. Unlike other biometric technologies, it is never visibly exposed. Therefore it’s much more difficult for fraudsters to make an impression and use someone else’s identity.

It wouldn’t be far off to think of palm-mapping as a form of password protection. Although, instead of using an alphanumeric code to unlock features, you use your own body. Palm-vein scan technology offers:

  • Built-in privacy; the system is internal and unique to each user
  • More accurate impressions; 500 million data points versus 80 nodal points with facial recognition technology

The Amazon One Palm Scanning Process

Now that we have an idea of what the technology is capable of, we can discuss how Amazon is implementing it.

First, we should say that the technology is extremely simple to use. A customer can create their biometric profile at a participating Amazon One location by linking their palm and payment card to the service.

To do this, all a customer has to do is hover their palm over a small infrared reader, and the reader will instantly generate the user’s profile. Amazon One creates these profiles by establishing a consumer palm “signature” using machine learning technology. In other words, the company takes a digital impression (not a literal picture) of the customer’s palm, which it encrypts for later matching.

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Once the profile is created, the user can then process payments using this biometric profile anywhere Amazon One is accepted.

Seems simple enough. However, palm-vein scanning itself is slightly mystifying to the general public and, as a result, is subject to a growing pool of suspicion.

It’s true that Amazon is one of the global leaders in commerce, and is the dominant player in the North American market. Still, the question remains: will the platform’s potential boons outweigh public doubts? The key factor is whether evangelists can convey the benefits of the technology effectively.

The Benefits of Palm Payment Processing

As we mentioned above, Amazon One palm payments boast many advantages over fingerprinting or other biometric data. The reasons for this lie in the technology’s basic functionality.

An internal biometric system is much harder to mimic, manipulate, or replicate. Additionally, the system provides many health and personal safety benefits that are especially appealing in the post-Covid landscape. Amazon palm payments can offer:

Hygienic & Contactless Interactions

The user doesn’t have to physically touch the scanner at all for a palm-vein scan to work. Consumers can simply hover their palms over the scanner to verify and complete payment. Those who are concerned about hygiene in a post-Covid environment will appreciate this facet.

Optimized Security

As we explained above, palm-vein scans are the most advanced and secure biometric payment option available because they do not rely upon external data that can be replicated or stolen for verification. The veins in your hand are intricate and wholly unique to you as an individual and cannot be duplicated at a physical checkout.

Facial scans, on the other hand, can be more easily spoofed if that data is ever mined or leaked by fraudsters. In this way, palm-vein payment processing holds the security edge over other biometric options.

Increased Accuracy

To hammer this point home one more time: 500 million data points. That changes the entire ballgame when it comes to verification.

The accuracy of data relies on the amount of information available, and there is simply no contest between palm-vein mapping and other biometric readings. Besides this, the false rejection rate (FRR) and false acceptance rate (FAR) of palm vein technology are lower than in any other biometric platform. So, Amazon can block more fraud attempts while legitimate customers are unaffected.

Long-Term Reliability

Since the veins in your palm are unique to you and are very difficult (nearly impossible) to replicate, this feature alone makes this data extremely reliable for the long term. Unlike fingerprints, facial features, or even iris depth and size— palm veins will never change or become less visible over time. This makes palm vein mapping an extremely reliable resource over the lifetime of the user.

Amazon hopes to capitalize on this tech for good reason. It seems a smart and safe bet for any commercial enterprise seeking to break into contactless payments. However, as with anything else, palm-vein mapping technology also has its share of downsides.

The Drawbacks of Palm Payment Technology

It should always be expected that even the most brilliant ideas bear unintended consequences. While biometric payments are still relatively new, there remains quite a lot of room for improvement across all platforms.

With palm-vein mapping technology, in particular, some of the potential downsides are as follows:

Could be Pricey

Although the company has yet to do a national rollout of this platform, Amazon One could be available to retailers across the country soon enough. One thing we can expect is that the infrared reader might cost quite a bit more than the legacy contactless readers merchants have access to now.

The platform is only in use across various brick-and-mortar Amazon stores or via various Amazon partners at the moment. So, we just don’t know how much the platform could be for other retailers who might be interested in adopting their own palm payment solution.

Database is Comparably Small

Machine learning technology requires large amounts of data in order to learn effectively. The platform is still very new, so the few platforms that have integrated with the technology simply do not feature a large number of active users from which to draw.

This could change in the near future if more retailers and systems adopt similar technology backed by open data. For now, though, the data available from which to draw is limited.

Health Factors Could Complicate Readings

We mentioned above that palm vein mapping is a stable, reliable indicator over the lifetime of the user. However, there’s the possibility that certain short-term factors could interfere with verification and decisioning.

Health factors such as high fevers, skin damage, or other factors could prevent the scanner from reading vein maps correctly. It’s true that the platform could very likely develop workarounds for these issues. It’s not clear yet, though, as the technology is still so new.

It’s Not Well Known

As human beings, we are very suspicious of new things. Palm vein scans are the same as any other emerging technology on that score.

The general public can be hesitant to adopt new technologies, specifically when it involves anything related to payments or finance. Until merchants are brave enough to adopt the method en masse, the general public will likely continue to be skeptical.

Potential Privacy Issues

According to TechCrunch, a group of U.S. senators expressed their concerns about the palm-scanning system. Specifically, they mentioned Amazon uploading biometric information to the cloud, which raises “unique security risks.”

Amazon has seen controversy in the past related to practices like storing Alexa data and selling facial recognition services to law enforcement. In addition, some have speculated that Amazon’s recent acquisition of tech company iRobot would let the company map users’ homes for marketing and other purposes. Consumer trust could be a serious obstacle to widespread adoption.

Regardless of the outcome of these issues, merchants should be aware that they don’t strictly need to wait and see what Amazon does. Any brand with sufficient resources could make steps to take advantage of palm-vein mapping technology now.

A Broader Strategy is Required

As a merchant, you’re probably waiting to see how Amazon One and similar platforms work out before you decide whether or not to take the palm-vein plunge. The fact is that, regardless of how advanced and forward-thinking it might be, it is too new to accurately predict its viability for the long term.

Choosing to add a palm-vein mapping method to your checkout options could definitely improve your customer’s shopping experience in many ways. Keep in mind, though: no payment method is bulletproof.

Your authentication methods must be accurate and efficient without causing friction at checkout. This comes before any other concern. With that in mind, here are some tips you can implement to optimize your practices:

Diversify Authentication Tools

There is no “one tool to rule them all.” You may have to experiment to find the right mix. Implementing CVV verification, AVS, 3DS technology, geolocation, and fraud blacklisting, will help you build sturdy defenses against many types of fraud.

Maximize Data Comprehension

There is no “one tool to rule them all.” You may have to experiment to find the right mix. Implementing CVV verification, AVS, 3DS technology, geolocation, and fraud blacklisting, will help you build sturdy defenses against many types of fraud.

Update Regularly

Authentication is only as effective as your ability to store and access that information. Perform regular account checks to update expired details held on file.

Get Proactive

Palm-vein scanning technology might be a powerful tool, but it can only impact a few sources of fraud and chargeback. Keep in mind: no matter which fraud detection tools you deploy or how you combine them, they have no impact on loss sources like friendly fraud. You'll need additional help to deal with this and other threats to your revenue.

Chargebacks911® specializes in preventing post-transactional fraud that criminal detection tools can't reach. We work alongside other technologies to provide comprehensive, multilayered fraud defense. Nab your free ROI analysis today!

FAQs

What is palm payment technology?

A palm vein scan uses infrared light to map the unique vein structures in your palm, then converts these data points into encrypted code. As of 2022, palm mapping is relatively new and hasn't been widely adopted. However, this is likely to change with the recent development of IOS and Android applications.

How do palm scan payments work?

The tech is extremely simple to use. A customer can create their biometric profile at a participating location by linking their palm and payment card to the service. To do this, All a customer has to do is hover their palm over a small infrared reader. The scanner takes a digital snapshot of the customer’s palm, then encrypts it for later matching. A biometric profile is created by establishing a consumer palm “signature.” The user can then process payments using this biometric profile anywhere they are accepted.

What is Amazon One?

Amazon One is the company’s answer to advanced contactless payment technology. Amazon’s stated intent is to simplify, speed up, and secure the contactless payment process for all participating merchants. For consumers, the intention is to encourage sanitary payments, increase consumer protections, and streamline the checkout process. After all, it doesn’t get much easier than holding one’s palm over a small scanner to make payments.

Why does Amazon want my palm print?

First, Amazon is not tracking your “palm print.” Instead, it’s tracking a digital impression of the veins in your palm. This technology is more secure, and can let you authorize contactless payments more swiftly and efficiently.

Are palm scan payments safe?

As with any new technology, much of the concern about its uses rest with how it is used by the various agencies that acquire it. The technology itself boasts the most secure biometric software on the market. How it will be used by companies like Amazon and others, remains to be seen.

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