Touch and Go
By Peter Cox Staff Writer WILLMAR -- Could the days of checks and debit cards be nearing their end? Possibly. Today, Willmar's Cub Foods store is implementing a new payment system which requires just a fingerprint. The store is among a growing nu...
By Peter Cox
WILLMAR -- Could the days of checks and debit cards be nearing their end?
Today, Willmar's Cub Foods store is implementing a new payment system which requires just a fingerprint.
The store is among a growing number of American grocers using the "Pay By Touch" system.
Chris Murphy, director of public relations for Cub Foods, said four Twin Cities area stores tried the system out this past summer.
"Our customers loved it," he said.
Murphy says the system lets customers leave wallets and checkbooks at home and saves them time at the register.
Cub Foods plans on putting the system in all 67 of its Minnesota stores by Nov. 30. Several other nationwide and local grocery chains are bringing the system into their stores.
Willmar's Cash Wise Foods will be one of two pilot stores implementing the system in their chain, according to Store Manager Shane Theisen.
The system works like this: a person signs up using a Pay By Touch kiosk at the participating store scanning in their finger and entering checking or debit card information. After shopping, the customer scans their finger and types in a number, such as a telephone number, which authenticates their identity. That's it.
Theisen said the system cuts check out time in half.
Once a customer is signed into the Pay By Touch system, they can use any Pay By Touch system anywhere, according to the Web site. So, a person signed up at Cub Foods can use the system at Cash Wise Foods and vice versa.
The system doesn't actually store fingerprints, but rather it remembers 40 different data points from each fingerprint, according to the Pay By Touch Web site.
"It's as unique as the fingerprint itself," Murphy said.
Some security and privacy experts have raised concerns about finger scanning systems.
They worry that information could be stolen either through getting people's scans or through hacking into the database that Pay By Touch keeps.
However, the company says that the information they take is encrypted and stored in secure IBM databases.
The company also says that because people don't have to get out wallets and credit cards, their information can't be seen by anyone. Also, the retailers who use Pay By Touch don't even see the customer's information, according to the Pay By Touch Web site.
While retailers say the system is convenient and saves time for their customers, they also benefit. The Pay By Touch system saves the retailer the costs of processing fees that card companies and banks charge for transactions.
The Willmar Cash Wise Foods has tentative plans are to start up the system in January 2006, but it could go earlier, Theisen said.
Theisen said Pay By Touch is a good system for his store and his customers.
"It's going to be awesome," he said. "We hope that everyone is going to sign up for it."