Biometric Payment Systems Are Not Rocket Science at Star Market

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- It may not take a rocket scientist to use a biometric payment system, but at Star Super Market, that's just who is using the technology, which was installed in all three of the retailer's stores last week.

"NASA has a research facility nearby, and this is the second-largest research park in the country," Star's owner (and chief pharmacist) Darden Heritage told Progressive Grocer. "Many of our customers are engineers, so we're in the perfect market for biometrics, as opposed to a rural area where we might have to spend a lot of time training the customers. I'm sure many of our shoppers are already familiar with the technology -- they might even be using it at some of the NASA facilities."

Indeed, with Army's Redstone Arsenal, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, and Cummings Research Park nearby, Heritage was confident his customers would accept the technology -- so confident that he skipped the pilot phase and went right into implementation. "For the most part, we barely have to explain the technology," he said.

The biometric payment service, from Herndon, Va.-based BioPay (now part of Pay By Touch), allows shoppers to pay for purchases with the touch of a finger. There is no cost for customers to enroll or use the program. To enroll, the customer gives the clerk his or her driver's license or other ID, which is entered into BioPay's database. At the same time, the customer's index fingers are scanned. The customer's preferred checking account is recorded, as well as age information. Once enrolled, the customer can pay with his or her finger at any retailer in the United States that features BioPay.

Heritage installed the systems to help speed up transactions at the checkout and for age verification. Ironically, now the lines are mostly shoppers waiting to register for the service. "At one store with particularly high debit card usage, the customers couldn't wait to sign up," said Heritage.

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