No Wallet Necessary: Pay by Touch Makes it Easy to Checkout with Your Finger

You scan your products, bag them, pull out your wallet, and stop; how are you going to pay? The choices are no longer just paper or plastic at your local grocery store or supermarket. In addition to self-service checkouts, hundreds of grocery stores across America are jumping on board to feature the Pay by Touch service, a fairly new module to the U.S. that offers the option of paying using a scanning system using your finger!

Pay By Touch is set up to function as a virtual ‘wallet.’ Users sign up online with a digital pass code for the initial registration; at your first visit to a Pay By Touch-enabled store, you will log in with this pass code and scan your finger into the device. This sets up your profile, and going forward, you are able to pay directly from your checking out simply by positioning your finger into the scanning system. No wallet needed; no checks, cash, or even credit cards. Everything is automated, and stored securely on an IBM-based server on the Pay By Touch database. The Pay By Touch system is reportedly not based on fingerprints, but instead uses specific measurements and sequence patterns on your finger to identify you; once your profile is established, it is stored indefinitely, unique to you. If it sounds like something out of the ‘Matrix’, you won’t be too far off; the progression to automated, scanning services is slowly gaining favor in many retail outlets and checkout areas.

The innovative technology is becoming popular at many Pay By Touch participating stores; you can find your nearest local spot by entering a zip code onto the Pay By Touch website. You’ll be provided with a full listing of nearby stores that will highlight your easiest touch point.

The San Francisco-based company offers its services to Midwestern markets including Minnesota and Wisconsin. Currently Cub Foods and Piggly Wiggly stores are featuring the option to pay using the Pay By Touch system. South Carolina Piggly Wiggly’s are planning on operating at least 80 stores with this technology and Pay By Touch will be used at additional retail chains and outlets nationwide.

Pay By Touch can help speed up your checkout process for your grocery trips. Although it may seem like only minutes saved to the consumer, each transaction also offers a cheaper alternative for retailers since they do not incur processing and transaction fees. However, the technology does open up debates on security and profiling; many stores may adapt to formats of tracking purchases more diligently, enabling them to tie your profile directly to your buying habits. This area has often been a cause of controversy even with simple shopper discount cards in recent years.

Other scanning technology such as full-fledged biometrics (that uses an actual fingerprint), and eye-scanning devices are being tested for other high-security uses. As a form of identification, scanning and encryption technology will play a crucial role in the developments of personal data control and, now, payment. For retailers and grocery stores, this may greatly reduce the chances of check fraud and credit card abuse; since the Pay By Touch system debits a checking account instantly, it may also encourage consumers to possibly spend a little more wisely!

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