No ID? No problem. Amazon lets you buy booze with a palm print

The Amazon One hub, reading a palm print (Amazon)
The Amazon One hub, reading a palm print (Amazon)

Baby-faced adults of the world, rejoice! Amazon now has a way for you to prove that you’re old enough to buy that beer without having to dig through your wallet or purse for a driver’s licence, while you unconvincingly insist you consider the imposition a compliment.

Amazon One — the biometric payment system where you pay for goods and services with a flash of the unique ridges and lines of your palm print — has been upgraded to include age verification, the company has announced.

This isn’t a clever kind of technology that can identify the age of skin, so teens won’t be able to fake out the system by submerging their hands in water for an hour. Instead, it requires a little setting up in advance where users upload a government-issued ID and a selfie to the Amazon One website for verification (though sensitive data won’t be stored by Amazon, the firm says).

The result is the same, however. By flashing your palm on a vendor’s Amazon One hub, they’ll get reassurance that you’re over the age of 21 along with the aforementioned selfie to prove that you haven’t just (figuratively) attached someone else’s ID to your palm. Once approved, you can use the same palm print to pay for your order with the card details saved to your One account.

This isn’t just a proof of concept. Amazon One’s payment system is in use at Amazon-owned Whole Foods, as well as at sports stadia, entertainment venues, and retailers at airports in the United States.

The age-verification upgrade will debut at Coors Field — the home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team —which should theoretically make grabbing a beer between innings that bit faster.

If this were to be widely adopted, it could make an enormous difference to a night out in London. Long queues to bars and venues could become a thing of the past as customers just swipe their palm instead. No need to worry about misplacing your wallet — unless you somehow lose your hand on a night out, then you’d still be able to pay the Tube fare home.

That’s a giant ‘if’ of course. Not only have some venues backed off adopting Amazon One thanks to public backlash, but the company could still ultimately decide to pull the plug if adoption isn’t fast enough. That’s what it did recently with its Halo health devices, which had similarly bold ambitions, but were ultimately abandoned before they could reach the UK.