Amazon's handy pay-by-palm service now lets you sign up by phone

Shoppers can take a picture of their hand instead of signing up in store. Here's how to get started.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

If you've shopped at a Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, or Amazon Go store, you may have noticed Amazon One, the service that lets you pay by scanning your palm.

Introduced in 2020, the contactless payment option is also available at Hollywood Casino at Greektown in Detroit, some Panera Bread locations, and more than 150 airports, fitness centers, and convenience stores, including Coors Field, T-Mobile Park, Climate Pledge Arena, and Texas A&M's Kyle Field. In addition to making payments, Amazon One is also used by some establishments to verify age, to serve as a loyalty card, or for entrance -- like a gym. 

Also: 5 reasons why I switched to a digital wallet, and you should too

While signing up used to mean going to a physical location to hover your hand over a public device, Amazon today rolled out a new option to set up your account: taking a photo of your palm with your phone. 

For first-time shoppers, this means you don't have to spend any more time at checkout. For returning shoppers, it means no more getting stuck behind first-time shoppers trying to sign up.

To get started, download the Amazon One app, available for iOS and Android. After logging in to your Amazon account and entering your phone number, you'll be asked to sign a biometric consent form that essentially says you'll allow Amazon to collect your handprint. 

You'll be asked to scan both palms and then select a payment method you want to use. Once that's done, you're all set for the next time you pay with Amazon One.

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The first time you make a purchase, generative AI will match that photo you took with near-infrared imagery from the Amazon One device. Generative AI creates a palm and vein pattern that is compared against the photo you took at signup. If it matches, payment is processed. Amazon says the system has 99.9999% accuracy.

Amazon notes that images taken are encrypted and sent to a One domain in the AWS cloud and cannot be downloaded or saved to your phone. The mobile app includes "additional layers of spoof detection," the company says, to make things as secure as possible.

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