SAN FRANCISCO -- Amazon is expanding technology to let shoppers pay by scanning their palm print to several Whole Foods stores in Seattle, aiming to push it to a broader group of patrons.
The technology, called Amazon One, works by scanning a palm print and connecting it to a credit card one time. After that, a shopper hovers a palm above a sensor to pay for items.
Amazon said that it planned to sell the service to retailers, stadiums and office buildings, and that the Whole Foods rollout would be its first push to a more mainstream audience. The palm scanning technology immediately raised privacy concerns when Amazon announced it last year, and experts said it was unclear whether customers would be comfortable using it.
Amazon insists that it keeps palm scans encrypted in a safe corner of its cloud, but experts worry that the technology could be a security risk.
Amazon said in a blog post Wednesday that the data is protected by "multiple security controls" and never stored on the devices, which are placed in stores so anyone can sign up.
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
In many ways, Amazon One is a response to biometric payment technology that already exists on smartphones. Apple will scan users' faces to unlock their stored credit cards. But the difference with Amazon is that the palm prints will be sent and secured in a server, rather than remaining solely on the device.
The introduction of the palm-scanning technology is part of Amazon's push to make shopping in real life more like buying things with one click online -- a method that retail analysts call reducing friction and that typically ends up with customers spending more. The palm print can also be linked to customers' Amazon Prime accounts, providing data on how people shop and browse.
Amazon debuted the technology last year and rolled it out at the company's small stores in its hometown, Seattle, including at its Go cashier-less convenience stores and its bookstore. But its entrance to Whole Foods signals that Amazon intends the technology to expand to a mainstream group of shoppers.