Amazon opened up its new Go store in New York last week. And despite it being the 12th ‘cashless’ store opened by the tech giant, this particular physical shop has caused a stir amongst the locals.
The cashless stores have come under criticism that they discriminate against “poorer customers and those without bank accounts,” as the Telegraph reports.
Unlike the other 11 stores, where customers are automatically charged for what they pick up when they leave the store, the New York site has succumbed to the pressure and will now also let customers pay for their purchases in cash.
David Orme, senior vice president at IDEX Biometrics, believes Amazon Go stores are an indication of what the future might look like for high street shopping, and so, more needs to be done by the government and banks to ensure everyone can use them.
“The news this morning that Amazon has been forced to accept cash at its ‘cashless store’ amid claims it discriminates against those without bank accounts, serves as a stark reminder of the struggles to come if banks and the Government don’t work closely enough to ensure the benefits of cashless society are available and accessible to all,” said Orne.
“A solution must be adopted to bridge the gap to those who currently remain unbanked by removing the barriers that face those living with dementia or literacy challenges. Fingerprint biometric payment cards are just one way this could be done, as payment card authentication will no longer be about what you know, or what you can remember, but who you are.”
Orne points to biometrics as a possible solution for these challenges. “Biometrics companies are already working alongside card manufacturers and financial institutions to combat this issue and rapid advances in technology mean that biometrics is set to make a real impact on financial inclusion over the next couple of years,” he said.
“Latest advancements in fingerprint biometric payment cards will also mean that enrolment for biometric payment cards can take place in the comfort of your own home. This prevents individuals from having to leave the house to visit a bank branch, meaning this solution will be accessible for all, including those who might have physical health limitations.”
Although Amazon’s Go stores are currently all located in the US, it may not be long until this issue becomes one that the UK has to also deal with. If the rumours are true, we could be seeing the first UK cashless physical store by the retailer very soon.
A site near Oxford Circus could be the first in the UK to house the cashier-free store, and with Amazon reportedly planning to open as many as 3,000 Go stores by 2021, we’re likely to see even more popping up this side of the pond in the next couple of years.
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