Thursday, May 18, 2006

Use Pay By Touch at Woodstock...Jewel

Grocery bill becomes touchy subject

May 17, 2006 3:03 PM CT

No more fumbling in your purse for your checkbook, digging in your wallet for a credit card or wondering if you brought enough cash for your purchase, just Pay By Touch, and you're transaction is complete.

Pay By Touch, headquartered in San Francisco, is a privately held company that uses biometric authentication technology to identify customers through a finger scan. Biometrics is an automated method of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic.

These methods can include; retinal scanning, hand and finger geometry, fingerprints, voice patterns and facial recognition.

"So far, it's been very popular. It's another payment option," said Donna Smith, the front-end manager at the Jewel-Osco in Woodstock. The store installed the Pay By Touch system six weeks ago, Smith said.

John Rogers, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, began Pay By Touch in 2002 and works with more than 300 employees who have expertise in biometrics, security, banking, health care and business development.

Pilot programs can be found in local stores like Jewel Food Stores. Pay By Touch programs are offered at over 120,000 stores throughout Illinois, Washington, Oregon, South Carolina, North Carolina, North Dakota, Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Virginia, New York and Ohio.
Customers must be at least 18 years old with a valid checking account to enroll in the program.

To enroll in Pay By Touch, customers simply touch their index finger to a touch pad. The system does not use fingerprints, but instead uses tiny measurements of your finger. These measurements can not be reverse-engineered into a fingerprint. After your finger is scanned, your name, address, phone number, age and checking account or debit card information is added into the system. Additional information includes either a driver's license and state or military identification. Information is never sold and is encrypted and stored at a secure IBM data center.

The Pay By Touch system in Jewel-Osco is located at all of their registers including self check-out lanes. Once a customer places a finger on the touch pad, that person is identified by finger measurements. Touch pad users are then linked to the IBM database that holds their personal information and financial accounts. They enter their telephone number or search number and verify the purchase amount. There is also an option to request cash back which can be up to $100, and any preferred savings are automatically deducted.

Mike Ray, assistant store director of Woodstock Jewel, said Pay By Touch "speeds up the check-out process. It's another reason to shop here; it's the convenience." "Checks don't need to be validated, and you don't have to wait for people to make out a check," he said.

Banks do not charge a fee for using Pay By Touch, and the money is withdrawn at the point of purchase. Customers can access their transactions at

Marry Hidding, Woodstock, enrolled in the program two weeks ago.

"It's very convenient. I really like it," she said. "There's less to do when you go to the check out. You don't have to fumble through your purse to look for a check, to get your wallet or pull out your money. There's less of a hassle."

"My mother loves it because she doesn't have to carry anything with her anymore. She doesn't have to fumble for her Jewel card or her check," Smith said. "You don't need anything but your finger."