The Problem With Whole Foods' New 'Pay-By-Palm' Checkout Service

From grocery stores to restaurants, the food industry has the potential to create breakthroughs in payment technology. According to Thales Group, certain stores plan to embed payment methods in certain wearable pieces of technology that track your body for fitness purposes. Mobile apps continue to push the boundaries of contactless payment, and "biometric authentication" can now even be used to identify paying customers. Some companies have experimented with using facial data, gestures, and even palm data as a way to track purchases.

While this futuristic tech may sound exciting to some, others aren't so sure. According to Fox, some Whole Foods in Austin, Texas have started experimenting with palm-swipe payment technology. The Amazon-affiliated biometric payment method, known as Amazon One, has only been introduced to stores in Seattle and Austin so far. While company officials praised the technology as a "quick, reliable, and secure" way to pay for groceries, other experts have expressed concerns over the unique payment method.

A new way to pay for food

According to Fox, some experts aren't fans of Whole Foods and Amazon's new palm-based payment system due to security concerns. Members of the senate have even reached out to Amazon's CEO about the technology, inquiring about how the company plans to collect and safeguard consumer data. Amazon One officials responded, saying that the information gets "encrypted and sent to a highly secure area [they] custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud," which can be accessed by companies that rely on the payment system.

Like it or not, this technology now seems like an inevitability, especially if you live in Seattle or the greater Austin area. Austin American-Statesman reports that all Whole Foods locations in the city plan to start using the palm-reading technology alongside more traditional methods like credit card scanners. Users have to first enroll in the payment method, which includes scanning your hand. Amazon does anticipate expanding the service in the near future, so it might not be long until you discover a Whole Foods in your area that has tapped into this futuristic payment method. If you have concerns about paying for groceries with your own body, you at least have other options — for now.