Last week saw an uptick in activity around biometric payment technology using shopper's finger scans, as one chain launched a pilot while another began a rollout.
Last Monday, Cub Foods, a division of Supervalu, Minneapolis, began a four-month pilot of San Francisco-based Pay By Touch's biometric payment technology in its Blaine, Minn., store. The 75-store retailer will begin offering the service in three additional Minneapolis-area Cub Food stores in June.
Cub's installation coincides with the expansion Piggly Wiggly Carolina's biometric program. Based on a four-store pilot started last July, the Charleston, S.C.-based retailer has started installing the Pay By Touch biometric payment system in the rest of its 82 corporate stores. Completion of the rollout, first announced in January, is slated for early June.
At both companies, the biometrics system links shoppers' finger scans, read by a point-of-sale reader, to their financial accounts, enabling them to identify themselves and pay without any other financial instrument.
"We tested Pay By Touch at four stores in South Carolina and found that our guests loved paying for their groceries with a quick finger scan because of the convenience of not having to fumble with wallets at checkout," said Rich Farrell, vice president of information technology, Piggly Wiggly Carolina, in a statement. "Pay By Touch users saw Piggly Wiggly as more dedicated to providing better customer service -- and that is very important to us."
Farrell said earlier this year that the rollout represents "to my knowledge" the largest rollout to date of biometrics as a payment mechanism in the supermarket industry. However, Lowes Food Stores, Winston-Salem, N.C., has since announced that it plans to install a biometric payment system from BioPay, Herndon, Va., in all of its 108 stores by the end of the year.
Biometrics technology has also been instrumental in promoting automated clearinghouse (ACH) transactions, the least costly payment transactions for merchants, aside from cash. Piggly Wiggly does that by presenting the ACH option to shoppers before debit and credit options.
Cub Foods has decided that, at least initially, the biometric system at its stores will only link shoppers to checking and electronic benefit transfer transactions. Additional options, such as credit and debit cards, may be added at a later date.
Cub Foods will make a decision regarding full deployment based on consumer interest and acceptance, according to Pay By Touch. "Our goal is to serve our customers better than any grocer could," said Brian Huff, president of Cub Foods West Region, in a statement. "We're thrilled to be the first grocer in Minnesota to offer customers the Pay By Touch system."