Friday, May 13, 2005



BioMetric Payment Systems. Hmmm. Interesting reading this morning. Two different articles from two different locations announcing the use of BioMetric payment systems being adopted in the retail grocery business. The first announcment comes from PigglyWiggly of South Carolina. The second from Combo Stores in Provo, Utah.

So what is biometric payment? A person sets up an account by having their index finger scanned. The scan, along with your personal checking account information and a specified PIN number are kept on record. Then when you go into the store you just scan your finger in their scanner and it taps your account for payment. No longer is a check needed, a bank card, a wallet for ID, or even cash.

The service Piggly Wiggly is using has been developed by a San Francisco based company. Pay by Touch has been developing biometric systems for the retail industry since 2002. The finger scan is not actually a fingerprint scan. The Pay By Touch technology does not use actual fingerprints; instead, it uses a set of 40 data points from a finger scan that cannot be reverse engineered into a fingerprint. The data points are then encrypted to allow for a secure identity match at retail point of sale. You need not fear that anyone could reporduce your finger points scanned. Not point of sale identity theft!

Combo uses the firm BioPay. BioPay uses the same technology that Pay by Touch uses. BioPay does say that the cost per transaction is about 75% less than debit transactions. I wonder if that will be passed along to customers? So given the opportunity will you use this new technology?