Should we be skeptical of Amazon One?

Amazon One lets you buy things with your palm print. People have some privacy questions.


October 1, 2020

In the battle of which Big Tech company can appropriate U2’s best single, Amazon released a new product — Amazon One, not to be confused with Google One (cloud storage) or Apple One (services bundle).

The new offering from the ecommerce giant is a “contactless way for people to use their palm” to conduct everyday activities like paying at a store or entering a location like a stadium.

Is this something we can trust Amazon with?

Tech writer John Gruber’s initial take is that “on the surface this sounds insane.” Why would anyone willingly send their palm print to Amazon’s cloud, he asks.

The details of how Amazon will implement encryption is critical.

As Gruber points out, Apple’s FaceID and TouchID securely store a person’s biometric information on the device itself (sealed off from other apps).

Amazon wants in on physical retail

We’ve seen this in the company’s $13.7B acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, and in its constant experiments with branded brick and mortar plays like Amazon Go.

Amazon One would help address this strategic impetus and — as Gruber points out — would give the Big Tech firm its own payments solution to compete with the mobile offerings from iPhone (Apple Pay) and Android (Google Pay).

In the opening statement for his recent Congressional grilling, Jeff Bezos said when it comes to doing “the right thing,” Americans only trust the military and primary care physicians more than Amazon.

If that’s truly the case, any concerns over Amazon One’s privacy settings may not be enough on its own to dissuade consumer uptake.

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