Oxford Co-ops test fingerprint payments

Customers not "squeamish" about giving supermarkets the finger...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Customers not "squeamish" about giving supermarkets the finger...

Three Oxford branches of the Co-op will be asking their customers to give them their fingers this week, with the announcement the supermarket will now be accepting biometric payment.

Shoppers will be able to link their fingerprint with credit card or debit card information and verify payment by pressing their digit against a reader.

Users can sign up to the Pay By Touch system via the internet or in store, and the service is free. Bill Laird, COO of retail, Midcounties Co-op, said the launch had already generated a lot of interest, with customers keen to sign up to the biometric payment system.

The Co-op is trialling the system in response to customers' anxieties over having to remember various PIN numbers after the deadline for compulsory chip and PIN usage passed in February.

The first Oxford store to trial the biometrics system has reported that paying by fingerprint has initially proved faster than entering a PIN.

Laird told silicon.com the Co-op chose fingerprint reading over other biometrics as it is "the least squeamish and the most acceptable... other technologies are still at the proving stage", he said. Laird added that a small number of customers had expressed concerns about whether their fingerprints would be made available to outside agencies.

The pilot will last 16 weeks and customers will be asked for their feedback during the trial period. If customers are positive about the biometric payment, the Co-op will look into making the technology a permanent fixture in the stores.

A larger rollout is not yet planned. Laird said the stores will share the results of research and findings with other Co-ops. "It's up to them if they decide to use it," he said.

A number of stores in the US already have Pay by Touch technology installed, with around two million users paying using their biometric every week.

One supermarket said the technology had made it into the stores because of customer demand - and one man had even driven 400 miles to use the biometric payment system.

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