Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Amazon aspires to be more than a giant warehouse full of branded goods and third-party tat. And that’s not just because it abandons things when they’re not instantly profitable.
A case in point is Amazon One — a way of paying for goods and services with a scan of your palm. For those that find the hassle of tapping a smartwatch a contactless reader too much like hard work.
Now Amazon One has been expanded to add proof of age, so that baby-faced adults no longer face the shame of being asked to show off their driving licence. Debuting at the Colorado Rockies baseball team’s Coors Field ground, fans shouldn’t have to wait half as long to get served between innings.
Fans of Logan’s Run will be pleased to hear that there’s no proof-of-age implant required, and nor does it try and guess the age of a person’s skin in a potentially insulting manner (thus foiling hundreds of under-age drinkers trying to fake ID by making their hands go pruney in a bathtub).
Instead, Amazon requires users scan government-issued ID to the website along with a selfie. Once done, a swipe of your hand will show your age verification alongside said selfie to prove that you haven’t just put someone else’s ID on your hand.
On one hand (pun intended), this is quite neat. It should speed up queues, and save you having to dig around for your credit card or ID. And while it’s very easy to lose your wallet on a boozy night out, it’s a lot harder (albeit not impossible) to lose a hand.
But on the other it does feel a little bit dystopian, having biometric identity information being processed by the world’s largest online retailer. Plus, to be really worthwhile, it requires mass adoption — something that feels far from a certainty, given at least one major venue has backed off the system due to public pressure over privacy concerns.
With that in mind, the odds of it reaching New Zealand in the next few years feel slim — especially given how long it took for Amazon’s bread-and-butter retail offering to be available to Kiwis. Even then, it’s only via the Australian site.