September 23, 2019
Aram Sinnreich recently went grocery shopping at a Whole Foods Market in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and realized he had left his wallet at home. He had no cards and no cash, but he had no reason to worry — at least, not about paying for his food. “I used my iPhone to pay, and I unlocked it with my face,” he said.
That’s when it struck him: We are just one small step away from paying with our bodily features alone. With in-store facial-recognition machines, he wouldn’t even need his smartphone. Sinnreich, associate professor of communication studies at American University, said he got a glimpse of the future that day.
Biometric mobile wallets — payment technologies using our faces, fingerprints or retinas — already exist. Notable technology companies including Apple AAPL, -1.46% and Amazon AMZN, -0.26% await a day when a critical mass of consumers is sufficiently comfortable walking into a store and paying for goods without a card or device, according to Sinnreich, author of “The Essential Guide to Intellectual Property.”
Removing the last physical barrier — smartphones, watches, smart glasses and credit cards — between our bodies and corporate America is the final frontier in mobile payments. “The deeper the tie between the human body and the financial networks, the fewer intimate spaces will be left unconnected to those networks,” Sinnreich said.
This article was posted: Monday, September 23, 2019 at 5:04 am