Panera Bread store

Customers of popular US bakery chain Panera Bread will soon be able to buy their food and collect their loyalty points with the swipe of a hand. Literally.

The fast-casual restaurant just announced a partnership with Amazon’s biometric palm scanning service Amazon One. The tech giant will initially deploy its palm-reading technology at two Panera cafes in St. Louis before rolling out the service to additional restaurants in “the coming months”.

After linking their MyPanera accounts to Amazon One, customers will be able to pay for meals, get personalized recommendations and collect loyalty points. The process even allows for customers to be greeted by name by Panera staff.

Reportedly, linking MyPanera to their Amazon One account is optional. Customers can instead just use Amazon One for payments, not loyalty points.

Amazon One

Amazon One on the Expansion Path

The Panera partnership marks another step towards the mainstream for Amazon One’s palm scanning tech. The tech giant first introduced the technology in its Amazon Go stores in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, amid a wave of enthusiasm for contactless means of payment.

Amazon has since rolled out the tech to Whole Foods (which it owns) and a few sports arenas, including the T-Mobile Park. Assuming the partnership with Panera Bread proves successful, other stores and chains may be eager to jump on the Amazon One bandwagon to enhance customer experience.

Privacy

Privacy Concerns

Amazon has claimed that its palm reading system is “more private” than alternative biometric systems that read faces or scan fingerprints.

But that has done little to assuage the privacy concerns expressed by some experts, who point out that this isn’t just a payments technology, it’s an invasive identity recognition technology.

Indeed, a lawsuit was filed against Amazon last week in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that its Amazon Go stores failed to appropriately notify customers that they were being monitored in their stores using “biometric identifiers”, as is required by New York City law.

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