Technology Trends

MIAMI -- We've all been there: standing in the supermarket's check out line, digging for identification and bank or credit cards. New there's a new way to pay that puts retail transactions at the tip of your fingers.

Garry Huddleston of Kroger Food Stores explains. "We use a finger identification system to identify customers for their payment process," he said.

They do it using "biometrics" -- the science of identity recognition that uses the human body instead of a plastic identification card. In this case, some stores are deploying a system that lets customers identify themselves with a scan of their unique fingerprint, MSNBC reports.

Leroy Smith of Biometric Access Corp., which makes the devices, says the device is a failsafe against identify fraud. "The biometrics of the fingerprint proves they are who they say they are," Smith said. The scanner makes a digital image of the fingerprint. It then measures the distance between unique points on the finger and stores those measurements. "We don't actually store a fingerprint image," said Smith. "We actually store a mathematical template of the fingerprint."

At the checkout stand, a computer matches the fingerprint to a customer database and then calls up recent payment information to finish the purchase.

"It speeds up the checkout process. Also, it eliminates a lot of the fraud in the check cashing system," said Huddleston.

So far, nearly 3,000 retail customers have signed up for the system, called the Secure Touch and Pay pilot system. Many say they like the convenience. "The female customers really like it because they don't have to bring their purse into the store," said Huddleston.

And, says Huddleston, customers who use the system know that no one else is fraudulently using their bank account because each sale literally has their fingerprints are all over it. The system allows customers to save information from both index fingers. That way, if a customer cuts their finger or has one hand in a cast, they can still access their account using the other hand.

For now, the fingerprint scanning system is being tested in three supermarkets, but developers hope to expand the system to stores nationwide.

ABOVE: Biometric Access Corp.'s finger scanning device.