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Austin Whole Foods unveils pay-by-palm service for grocery shoppers

Whole Foods shoppers in Austin, Texas, can now buy their groceries with nothing more than a swipe of the palm. The new Amazon One device is connected to a customer’s credit or debit card and can scan their unique palm signature in about a second. Austin is the first city to get the Amazon One device outside of Seattle, where the company has rolled the feature out at nine Whole Foods locations. “Amazon One is all about making everyday activities, like paying at a store, easier and more convenient for customers,” Thi Luu, Director of Product Management for Amazon Physical Retail and Technology, said Tuesday. “We built Amazon One to offer a quick, reliable, and secure way for people to identify themselves or authorize a transaction while moving seamlessly through their day.” The palm-reading service has raised privacy concerns among some officials. Last year, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), sent a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy about the company’s biometric data collection practices. “Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for this data and its respect for user privacy, including about how Amazon may use the data for advertising and tracking purposes,” the senators wrote. Amazon said when rolling out the technology in 2020 that the “Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls.” “The images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built for Amazon One in the cloud where we create your palm signature,” Dilip Kumar, Vice President for Amazon Physical Retail and Technology, wrote in 2020.

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