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UK Co-op scans fingerprints for shopper payments

08 March 2006  |  7550 views  |  0 Biometric finger scan

The Co-operative Supermarket chain in the UK is testing new fingerprint scanning technology from California's Pay by Touch as an alternative to card and cash payments at the check-out.

Beginning today, shoppers and members at the Midcounties Co-operative supermarket will have the option of using a finger-print scanning system to pay for purchases at three locations in and around Oxford.

The system scans customer fingerprints at the point-of-sale and links the image with an electronic wallet which holds financial and loyalty programme data, eliminating the need to carry cards, cash or a cheque book.

The initial sign up process can be completed either at home on the Internet or in store. The service is then activated when the consumer visits the supermarket.

Bill Laird, COO, retail, Midcounties Co-op, says: "Our customers are embracing Pay By Touch because it helps them get through the checkout faster without having to hunt for cards, cheques, wallets or purses."

John Rogers, chairman, founder and CEO of Pay By Touch says over 2.3 million shoppers in the US are already using the Pay by Touch system, which is available at over 2000 retail locations across the country.

Midcounties Co-operative is the first retailers in the UK to roll out the system.

Sandra Quinn, a spokesperson for the banking payments body Apacs, says that banks have so far rejected the use of fingerprints for authenticating customers because the technology tends to reject too many legitimate customers.

However research released by Unisys has found that two in three UK consumers believe that banks should be turning to biometric technology in order to combat identity theft.

The independent survey of 1000 UK households commissioned by Unisys found that the majority of respondents - 73% - believe that biometric technology would assist banks in the fight against fraud, while 48% placed confidence in the use of smart cards. Only 42% of consumers believed that banks should adopt token security.

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