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France: Auchan pilots biometric payments

Auchan has been piloting a biometric payment scheme in its Biosupermarkets, in conjunction with Banque Accord. The French retailer is the first supermarket chain to use the technology and has been involved in the trial for the past five months, using roughly 1,500 volunteers, and could see an end to the use of 'chip and pin' payments.

Customers use a WPAN enabled payment card from MasterCard to pay for their groceries, identifying themselves by placing their finger on a biometric reader, which send the payment to the bank to be processed. The finger print is matched with the information held in the chip of the payment card.

The system from Natural Security (a company that Banque Accord partly owns), allows data to be exchanged over a distance of two metres as it uses WPAN technology and does not require the use of centralised biometric databases.

"We wanted to streamline the checkout process and enhance the customer experience," said Arnaud Crouzet, director of development of electronic banking Auchan. "We needed to find a way to avoid the storage of biometric data on central servers, as this is the main disadvantage of biometric payment solutions developed in the past," he added.

One of the programmes volunteers, Jean Ghekiere, told ITN, "We don't need to get our card out, we don't need to fear it being stolen either, given that this system is personalised."


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