The retail and commerce landscape has made many revolutionary adaptations in the past few years. Businesses had to put their heads together to figure out how to safely keep the in-person shopping experience alive, and for grocery stores, do it at lightning speed.
Sanitation and distance became the name of the game. We saw plastic barriers set up between store employees and customers, and QR codes replace menus.
With all of these changes, one of the greatest was consumer expectations around payment. Suddenly, touching a pin pad seemed like an unsanitary idea. Quicker processes cropped up to solve the contact problem, like Venmo’s QR code, Apple Pay and card tapping. Now more than ever, people want payments to be fast and contactless because that’s what they’ve become accustomed to.
The feeling in many industries, not just retail, seems to be turning from, “ How do we adapt?” to “ How can we keep up?”
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how palm biometrics can offer a unique, responsible way to update the retail experience by replacing traditional payment cards with a person’s palm at the point of sale.
First things first: let’s make sure we understand the essential definitions.
Biometric authentication is using a biological or behavioral trait to first identify a person, and then verify their identity with a secured, encrypted copy of their trait. This trait could be a palm vein pattern, iris scan, fingerprint or even someone’s voice.
Biometrics are becoming an ever popular feature of technology. If you use your fingerprint or get your face scanned to unlock your phone ( or use palm vein mapping for certain Android users), your identity is being verified with biometrics many times a day, on a regular basis.
Palm-based biometrics is using the different biological traits of one’s hand to identify a person. There are many traits, or modalities as we call them, so we’ll just cover some of the more popular ones: palm vein and palm print.
Palm vein recognition is a biometric that works by using near-infrared light to map the unique vein structure of your palm, capturing over 5 million data points. The palm vein scanner then converts these data points into a unique encrypted code that becomes your biometric ID.
Palm print is a biometric that captures the pattern formed by alternating creases and troughs on the palmar surface of the hand in order to identify someone. The print is formed by three features: the main lines, wrinkles and ridges.
Palm scanning payment is a technology that allows a person to be identified by specific traits related to their palm to pay for goods and services.
Here’s the general step-by-step process:
1. A person scans their palm ( by waving or hovering their palm) over a palm scanner, which identifies their unique palm vein pattern and palm print ( or other palm traits).
2. Their identity is authenticated by a copy of their palm traits (in the form of encrypted code) that’s stored in a secure database.
3. Once that person’s identity is verified, the payment card that’s attached to their biometric account is automatically charged during POS.
1. A more sanitary point of sale
Imagine a person simply waving their palm over a palm vein reader at the grocery check out. They’re not inputting their pin on the pinpad and grocery clerks aren’t having to disinfect the payment hardware many times an hour. Plus, customers leave with a greater sense of safety, knowing they haven’t touched a payment terminal.
2. A faster, more convenient, frictionless POS
With just a quick scan of someone’s palm, they don’t have to punch in a pin number or even take out their card out of their wallet. A quicker POS means that a customer can easily grab their goods and move on with their day ( which makes a happier customer who’s more likely to return).
Meanwhile, the retailer can have absolute confidence that the data contained within the palm & biometric identity belongs to that individual.
Bonus: let’s say a customer forgets their wallet (or phone) at home. With palm payment, this isn’t an issue. That person can still pay for their goods and avoid a frustrating hiccup.
3. Less logistic stress of long lines, slow payments and frustrated customers
We’ve all been shopping during peak hours at a store. Whether it’s retail, a restaurant or a grocery store, it’s easy to get bothered by long wait times and lines that spill into the aisles or wrap around tables.
In addition to the frustration of long wait times, these lines make it harder for employees to do their job, for other customers to shop/enjoy their meal. When this build-up happens, palm payment can ease the wait with how quick the POS is.
Speeding up a step of the check-out process can go a long way in lessening the stress of peak hours. In turn, this small relief takes better care of shoppers and the staff.
4. Stronger Payment Security
As this biometric is internal to the body, it’d be nearly impossible to spoof or steal someone’s palm vein pattern, making their financial information completely secure. When a customer’s identity is verified at the check-out, the store can accept for certain that this person is who they say they are.
An additional security measure by using palm payment is that a person wouldn’t have to have a physical card on hand to make a transaction. This means that they never have to risk physically losing their credit card or having it stolen out of their purse/pocket/wallet/cart.
5. Future-Proofs Your Business
In the event of another pandemic or health-related crisis, ultra convenient, contactless palm payment will help businesses adapt to the times, while still serving customers well.
6. Allows you to stay competitive in retail
As mentioned in our introduction, retail tech is constantly adapting and evolving to meet the needs of consumers. Using palm payment prevents stores from getting left in the dust, relying on outdated systems and driving away once loyal customers.
Not only that, but providing such an effortless payment experience can attract new customers or demographics: those who value innovative, unique, frictionless consumer experiences.
7. Boost customer’s experience and increase sales
In the banking setting, once a customer's identity has been quickly and securely authenticated via a mobile banking app, that customer can be routed to the most appropriate representative.
This customer rep not only has the customer's account history, but also relevant contextual information from the user's browsing history of past inquiries and transactions, allowing them to be of the utmost help to the customer.
8. Data Singularity and Customer Feedback
A palm payment system allows businesses a unique opportunity to solicit feedback from their users.
Since the data contained within the palm payment system is secure and unique to the individual, it allows them to give specific and relevant feedback to a merchant or business, and enables that merchant or business to verify that they have actually used the product or service for which they are providing feedback.
This lets businesses incorporate that feedback, which in turn helps to build consumer confidence in the brand.
9. Enables stronger compliance around data security, consumer privacy and banking
Due to palm biometrics being privacy-by-design, this empowers the customer to keep their data in their control, and also makes it impossible to steal or spoof the biometric and payment data, allowing retailers to meet the rigorous standards of financial and privacy regulations.
External biometrics run into issues because they can be captured up to many feet away, like facial recognition. There is conceivably a world where someone can steal or spoof a person’s facial biometric data and use it for their financial gain. The same can be said for fingerprint or iris scan.
Perhaps one of your worries as a retail store owner or operator, is that you’ll have to overhaul your current payment processing system in order to adopt palm payment. In today’s API-focused world, that’s no longer the case.
Instead, you can integrate the palm payment system of your choice with the payment processing software you already use. There are a few ways to integrate too, and some that don’t involve coding skills.
For example, Zapier offers a few different payment options that don’t require coding:
The above are just a handful of available payment processors. In reality, there’s over 99 apps to choose from.
Certain payment processors like Stripe are very integration-friendly in their own right and provide ample developer tools to make the process as smooth as possible.
If you’re looking for a custom integration with your payment software, Keyo is happy to have a conversation with you and help steer you in the right direction. You can reach us at email@example.com
Adopting palm payment may seem futuristic or unreachable, but the reality is that it's quickly gaining traction and popularity in the retail and banking sectors due to its advantages as listed above. It’s been piloted by various governments and financial institutions for the past few years, and one of the largest e-commerce brands in the world has implemented it in their brick-and-mortar stores.
The main hope Keyo has for those looking to use palm payment is to do so responsibly. Robust data security is of the utmost importance. We also recommend complying with the GDPR and BIPA’s best practices for data privacy, and thoroughly educating your customers before onboarding them.
When palm payment is adopted with care, intentionality and responsibility, it has the power to improve our world by making payments simpler and more secure.