Payment by fingerprint disappears

Payment by fingerprint disappears

There are 22 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Mar 20, 2008, titled Payment by fingerprint disappears. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

Jan Bledsoe was shocked Thursday to learn she can no longer just swipe her finger across a screen at the local Jewel store to buy her groceries because the bankrupt company behind the technology no longer will ...

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Carleton

Chicago, IL

#1 Mar 21, 2008
No great loss. I never liked the finger print scanners at Jewel. I had big reservations about the privacy risks, partly because I knew the system was run by an outside company that I knew nothing about. What if their computer did get hacked? What if they were acquired by yet another company? Who knows where my fingerprint data might eventually wind up?

Also, the Jewel system did not seem reliable to me. My curiosity got the best of me after a while, and I did sign up to see how it worked. It worked very poorly. It did not store my prints properly and never seemed to recognize me, causing delays in the checkout line and frustration for everyone.

Debit cards are fast and relatively secure, and, it seems to me, the best alternative for a nation with soaring identity theft problems.
olucy

United States

#2 Mar 21, 2008
Speaking as one American who DID choose privacy over convenience, I'm not sorry to see them go at all.
Scott Free

Bonfield, IL

#3 Mar 21, 2008
I never really understood how this system was supposed to be more convenient or faster than paying with a debit card. You still have to wait for the merchandise to be scanned and bagged (although Jewel also wants you to do that yourself), you still have to press some buttons (especially if you want cash back), and you still have to collect your receipt, pick up your groceries and go. The only thing this system did was replaced swiping a card and entering a PIN (which takes about fifteen seconds for most people) with pressing your thumb against the sensor. That's not much of a gain, when you consider the price of this convenience is giving up some pretty personal data to a company that may or may not keep it secure. It's an idea that deserved to fail, and it did.
Bruce_in_Mt_Pros pect

Schaumburg, IL

#4 Mar 21, 2008
I, for one, am glad this technology is out of Jewel. Why would I want my fingerprint tied into my bank account?
Jay Elle

Glen Ellyn, IL

#5 Mar 21, 2008
No big loss. The system rarely worked and the Jewel cashier's were not trained appropriately causing the customers to have to reswipe their finger and re-enter their information again. It took longer to check out than to shop. Conceptually, it was a good idea. Glad to see them gone. By the way, whatever happens, Jewel is still responsible for any problems that may have or will occur as a result of this situation. Happy Easter.
Manimal

Portland, OR

#6 Mar 21, 2008
As a dedicated Jewel shopper, I'm quite surprised that so many people went with fingerprint pay. Jewel is NOT a tech store and does NOT have the technology to develope or maintain a system like this on their own. Did you not realize that this system would be run and maintained by an outside source?? The SAME outside source that would have your personal information, i.e. ss#, bank account info, etc. If they can't control what's inside their house (Their OWN finances), what makes you think they can keep track of yours???
WOW

United States

#7 Mar 21, 2008
Scott Free wrote:
I never really understood how this system was supposed to be more convenient or faster than paying with a debit card. You still have to wait for the merchandise to be scanned and bagged (although Jewel also wants you to do that yourself), you still have to press some buttons (especially if you want cash back), and you still have to collect your receipt, pick up your groceries and go. The only thing this system did was replaced swiping a card and entering a PIN (which takes about fifteen seconds for most people) with pressing your thumb against the sensor. That's not much of a gain, when you consider the price of this convenience is giving up some pretty personal data to a company that may or may not keep it secure. It's an idea that deserved to fail, and it did.
If it worked properly- then it would be easier since some customers are so bird brained. I was a cashier at several stores and you would be surprised at how many write checks (SLOWLY!!) or take FOREVER to find their credit card. And of course they dont even start to do anything until after everything has been scanned and or bagged.
I personally did not use that system since I dont shop at jewel much. Maybe twice a month? So I didnt consider it worthwhile in signing up.
Diane

Peru, IL

#8 Mar 21, 2008
This is just a bad idea. First people are stealing people credit card, next it will be there fingers. Do we really need this technology?
Dienne

Chicago, IL

#9 Mar 21, 2008
WOW wrote:
<quoted text>
If it worked properly- then it would be easier since some customers are so bird brained. I was a cashier at several stores and you would be surprised at how many write checks (SLOWLY!!) or take FOREVER to find their credit card. And of course they dont even start to do anything until after everything has been scanned and or bagged.
I personally did not use that system since I dont shop at jewel much. Maybe twice a month? So I didnt consider it worthwhile in signing up.
Do you think the type of people who write checks would ever be willing to do fingerprint scanning?
Dienne

Chicago, IL

#10 Mar 21, 2008
Scott Free wrote:
You still have to wait for the merchandise to be scanned and bagged (although Jewel also wants you to do that yourself).
For the ridiculous prices that Jewel charges they can't even scan and bag for you?
JMO

Chicago, IL

#11 Mar 21, 2008
Have to wonder who will be buying the fingerprint data files from the bankrupt company?

The fingerprints with the links to customer billing records will probably sell for pennies, if they sell for anything. Probably will just be left on the hard drives of the computers that will sell for firesale prices to overseas hackers.

Are these the same fingerprints as are used on passports?

bon voyage
PBT user

Naperville, IL

#12 Mar 21, 2008
I chose to use the Pay By Touch, but didn't use it often. There were a couple times when I had left my debit at home, having just run out to pick up one or two items. It was nice that I didn't have to go back home to get my card.

The only time I had problems, was if my hands were cold, then it had a hard time reading my finger. I learned not to shop the frozen food section last.

I also prefer the self checkout when I don't have too much. I hate waiting in a line.

I'll miss the convenience, but it's not devastating news. I'm sure some other company will pick up on the idea in the future, and I will probably use it again.
Jessica

United States

#13 Mar 21, 2008
Hullo "Big Brother".
david spears

Elgin, IL

#14 Mar 21, 2008
How could anyone think that this system was run and maintained by Jewel. Do they think the registers are, Jewel registers too? I will bet there is no way they will give credit card information over the phone but they will scan their finger to pay for groceries, because they are too lazy to swipe their card or put in cash. Wow, they really are busy, and uninformed.
Kathy

United States

#15 Mar 21, 2008
One question not answered in this story -- What will happen to all the fingerprint data this company had stored? Will it be sold as an "asset" if the bankruptcy goes into liquidation? Will customers have the option to have their data deleted? Could they trust it to be deleted?

I never signed up for it, because I rarely shop at Jewel, and even still I would've been vary wary of it. Too many possibilities for abuse.
Scott Free

Bonfield, IL

#16 Mar 21, 2008
Dienne: "For the ridiculous prices that Jewel charges they can't even scan and bag for you?" Jewel has been (at least around here) installing self-serve checkouts in which you scan and bag the items yourself. And to force customers into the self-serve checkouts, they've been reducing the number of checkouts that have clerks and baggers. I have little doubt that the "Pay by Touch" system was intended to facilitate self-serve checkout. Just another way to cut their costs and increase their profits by having the customer do their work for them.

JMO: "Are these the same fingerprints as are used on passports?" No (thank goodness). The "Pay by Touch" system didn't actually look at your fingerprint; that's too much data for the computer to process cheaply. Instead, the system located a small number of specific features on your fingertip (junctions of lines and such, I assume) and measured the positions of each. In theory, a half-dozen or so such features and positions provide enough information to uniquely identify an individual.

Kathy: "What will happen to all the fingerprint data this company had stored?" The fingerprint data itself is probably valueless, as it's unique to the particular "Pay by Touch" system and is not your actual fingerprint. The scary question is where the customers' debit card or checking account numbers were stored--in Jewel's computers, or in the "Pay by Touch" company's computers? If it's the latter, there may be thousands of valid card numbers floating around inside the computers of a bankrupt company. Not a reassuring thought...
Duh

Kankakee, IL

#17 Mar 21, 2008
"I didn't know it wasn't Jewel that I'd given my information and fingerprints to".

What an idiot for giving her fingerprint in the first place. Even more of an idiot for not knowing who was getting her information. Unbelievable that people are so "trusting", a.k.a. stupid.
JML

Tokyo, Japan

#18 Mar 21, 2008
Small correction:

"In Japan, millions of customers scan fingerprints into their cell phones, which they use to make purchases instead of using credit cards."

Not really -- a few phones have simple biometric fingerprint locks, but they are nothing to do with the payment systems in handsets. Those systems are entirely RFID based and can be either pre- or post-pay (credit). More here:

http://www.digitalworldtokyo.com/index.php/di...
JMO

Melrose Park, IL

#20 Mar 21, 2008
Scott Free wrote:
Kathy: "What will happen to all the fingerprint data this company had stored?" The fingerprint data itself is probably valueless, as it's unique to the particular "Pay by Touch" system and is not your actual fingerprint. The scary question is where the customers' debit card or checking account numbers were stored--in Jewel's computers, or in the "Pay by Touch" company's computers? If it's the latter, there may be thousands of valid card numbers floating around inside the computers of a bankrupt company. Not a reassuring thought...
In order to pick the points to use in their particular algoryhym they need to have a scanned image of your fingerprint. They may not reference the scanned image once they pick their points, but the scanned image is in their files...and who knows in whose files after the asset sale to satisfy the bankruptcy judgment.
Stephen Goodrich

Kennebunkport, ME

#21 Mar 22, 2008
I feel this was a poorly conceived business model. Not just because consumers still feel funny about fingerprint scanning, but because it requires every retailer that uses this system to install special equipment! Hello? Did PBT really think this payment option would be so revolutionary that it'd force all retailers to add their equipment? If you're going to introduce a new payment option, you better make sure it will work on, or at least piggy back on some of the existing infrastructure.

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