Friday, March 31, 2006

From 50 to 2100 stores in 10 months

As previously mentioned, shoppers at Chicago-area Jewel-Osco stores can now pay for their groceries by swiping a finger over a scanner. No need to pull out your checkbook or debit card or even your Jewel Preferred card.

Jewel-Osco is the largest grocery store chain to adopt the biometric technology, which Jewel-Osco President Larry Wahlstrom touted as a safer, faster way for customers to pay their bills.

With the Pay By Touch launch at 200+ Jewel-Osco stores this week, Chicago becomes the largest grocery marketplace nationwide to use the finger-scan technology. Cub Foods' 35 local stores, including one in Naperville, started using the technology in November.

People who are already registered with the Pay By Touch system can use it wherever it is offered.

In 10 months, Pay By Touch has grown from having its finger-scanning system in 50 stores to being in 2,100 stores.

Stand-alone Osco drugstores do not have the technology. Retailers tout the technology for helping shoppers dash through the checkout, no longer fumbling with ID cards and key fobs, and leaving their purses and wallets at home. But retailers benefit and save money, too. Grocery stores that use the technology no longer pay banks and other intermediaries to process credit card and paper check payments.

With the finger-scan technology, Pay By Touch Solutions charges the retailer slightly more than 10 cents per transaction and processes the payment automatically through a bank-to-bank clearinghouse. The faster system saves the grocery store money and speeds the payment.

John Morris, president and chief operating officer of Pay By Touch Solutions, the San Francisco company that provides the technology, said, "We're capturing and comparing a set of unique descriptors about a person's biometric without storing the image. "The set of descriptors could not be used to regenerate a fingerprint," said Morris, who lives in Hinsdale and commutes to work in California.