Friday, September 08, 2006

Whole Foods Introduces Pay By Touch

Pay By Touch technology in use at Whole Foods Market, Sunflower Stores

Friday, September 08, 2006

Forget your wallet? No problem. Just let your fingers do the paying.

Two organic- and naturalfoods retailers are taking biometrics to the grocery-checkout lane.
Whole Foods Market and Sunflower Market, are introducing pay-by-touch technology to central Ohio grocery shoppers.

Using the touch of a finger, consumers can pay for their purchases at both stores, eliminating the need to carry any form of money or identification.

Whole Foods Market rolled out the payment option in its Columbus store this week. Sunflower Market, which opens its first Columbus store Wednesday, also will offer the payment system.

The fingertip-payment system identifies a customers’ digital fingerprint to charge the customer’s checking account or credit card. Customers provide the store a voided check or credit-card number, which then is used to create the customer’s account.

Customer reaction to the concept has been mixed. Sharon Michael, of Dublin, said she doesn’t like the idea because it could tempt shoppers to spend more money than they intended. "I’d rather pay in cash, so if I don’t have the money on me, I won’t buy it," she said, as she sat outside Whole Foods yesterday eating lunch.

Her meal companion disagreed.

"I think it’s incredible," said Jan Jenkins, also of Dublin. "That way you don’t have to use credit or debit cards that can be lost or stolen. It’s just like when ATMs first came out and people were worried about the new technology, but we all use them now."

Whole Foods and Sunflower are two of the more than 2,100 stores in 44 states that offer the payment systems, according to Pay By Touch. The San Francisco company has been offering the technology to retailers nationwide since 2002.

The stores see the system as one of many payment options. They say they’ve created safeguards to keep customers’ information private.

"We’ve seen mothers juggling their children on their hips, trying to juggle their child while making their payments, and we just see this as a way to make it a little easier," Whole Foods spokeswoman Michelle Mooney said.

The Pay By Touch system also can help retailers process payments more quickly, said Glenn Backus, general manager of Sunflower Market.

Pay By Touch

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