Dutch supermarket pilots fingerprint payments

Dutch supermarket pilots fingerprint payments

Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn is teaming with European payments processor Equens to test fingerprint scanning technology as an alternative to card and cash payments at the check-out.

Shoppers participating in the new service - called Tip2Pay - will be able pay for purchases by placing their fingertips on a reader at the point-of-sale. The payments will then be processed by Equens.

Customers who want to use the technology will need to provide proof of identification and a debit card before having their fingerprints scanned, says Equens. Customers' names, addresses, bank account numbers and loyalty card details will then be registered in accordance with Netherlands privacy laws.

Albert Heijn and Equens are conducting the six month biometic payments pilot in consultation with biometric specialists IT-Werke, which has implemented the technology at German supermarket chain Edeka.

Equens says the trial - thought to be the first in the Netherlands - is being conducted to test customer reaction ahead of a wider roll out of the technology.

"We regularly test new payment concepts among our customers. We only continue their development if they are received with enthusiasm," says Jan de Heij, innovation manager, Albert Heijn.

In March 2006 the UK's Co-operative Supermarket trialled fingerprint authentication technology from California's Pay by Touch.

A survey of 1000 shoppers conducted by the supermarket in June that year found that 76% felt the Pay by Touch biometric system was more secure than chip and PIN, while 85% said the technology was more convenient. Over 75% of shoppers questioned said they would like to see the service available at other local retailers.

As well as the Co-op in the UK, Pay By Touch signed a number of retailers in the US to the biometric system.

But last year the US vendor was rocked by an internal legal feud which pitched company founder and CEO John Rogers against hedge fund investor Plainfield Asset Management.

This eventually resulted in Pay By Touch filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2007. Pay By Touch parent company Solidus Networks sold off the biometric assets to CardWorks Processing in April this year.

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