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The technology is now available at numerous Amazon physical retail locations, such as select Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods Market stores.

Wave your hand, grab a beer with Amazon’s latest roll-out

Age verification is being added to Amazon’s palm-scanning technology; what it means for grocery is unclear

Amazon One is rolling out palm-scanning technology now with age verification, so consumers can buy beer and alcohol with just their palms, according to its blog. 

The new feature is being introduced at Coors Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies. The IT service management subsidiary Amazon Web Services explains that while its customers love the convenience of paying with their palms, purchasing alcohol is still a major pain point as customers must produce their government-issued ID for age verification.   

“We launched Amazon One, our palm-based identity service, to remove friction from everyday activities and create a faster and more convenient way for people to pay or enter a location,” the website explains.

Senior Director of Food Service Operations and Development for the Colorado Rockies John McKay agrees with the AWS sentiment, stating that: “Hearing from Amazon One customers across the country, we understand that they love the convenience it delivers: Shorter wait times, quick access to buildings and locations, being able to link their loyalty memberships, and now an easy way to grab their beer.”  

However, this technology may feel familiar to Amazon Go customers — Amazon launched Amazon One in September 2020 at its first Amazon Go store in Seattle. 

The technology is now available at numerous Amazon physical retail locations, such as select Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods Market stores. The tech also has been licensed to third parties and is used at retailers in airports, and at sports stadiums, national technology news site GeekWire reports. 

In March the company brought the payment technology to fast-casual restaurant chain Panera Bread, with more than 2,100 locations across the U.S.

Age verification will be rolled out to additional establishments in the coming months, Amazon said, however, only time will tell if supermarket chains will be added to the list of establishments using Amazon One with age verification — especially as the Amazon Go format appears to be struggling as a concept. 

Earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to pause the rollout of its Amazon Fresh retail stores while it “re-evaluates the concept’s economics.”

“We're doing a fair bit of experimentation today in those stores to try to find a format that we think resonates with customers,” said Andrew Jassy, president and CEO of Amazon, during the company’s fourth-quarter conference call with analysts.

At that time of press, the company had 44 Amazon Fresh locations and 28 Amazon Go stores in the U.S., according to its website. Both the Fresh stores, which are similar to traditional supermarkets, and the Go stores, which are cashier-less convenience stores, had been widely considered a potential opportunity for the e-commerce giant to disrupt the traditional retail grocery space.

Whether or not the technology will take off with grocery, the way it works is still worth noting. Customers already enrolled in Amazon One can take advantage of the age-verification feature by visiting and uploading a photo of the front and back of their government-issued ID (i.e. driver’s license), along with a selfie. 

Once enrolled, customers no longer need to produce an ID when purchasing alcoholic beverages at participating outlets. 

Customers not yet enrolled in Amazon One can pre-enroll online or at the enrollment kiosks wherever Amazon One is available. For example, in Coors Field, Amazon One kiosks are available at the brewery inside the ballpark, as well as its full-service bar.

When an enrolled customer hovers their palm over the Amazon One device, the bartender will see a “21+” message along with the customer-uploaded selfie on the screen. The bartender can then do a quick visual match of the photo, and then proceed with the sale. When ready to pay, customers can hover their palms over the Amazon One device again, and they will be charged for their purchase.

It’s also important to add that Amazon One does not store customers’ government-issued IDs, which are verified by an ISO 27001-certified identity verification provider (ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security).

Amazon also says that this technology is significant to further remove friction for retailers, bars, and breweries — especially since Amazon One is already available at more than 100 Whole Foods Market stores, select Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores, and multiple third-party locations. This includes Panera Bread restaurants, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, convenience stores, and travel retailers like Hudson and CREWS at several U.S. airports, among others. 

Perhaps age verification is the technology needed to get Amazon Go stores back on track. In the meantime, the fact that consumers can wave their hands and grab a beer removing another layer of friction at checkout certainly can’t hurt. 


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