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Will finger technology spread?

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Updated: 6/09/2004 9:52 am
By Betty Lin-Fisher
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Will fingerprint technology some day be in your local retail store?

It's already being tested in some markets across the country and a few national companies are working hard to get national retailers to accept the technology.

Here's how it would work: A customer who wants to register for the fingerprint technology at a store would register his or her fingerprint with the store and link that fingerprint with forms of payment, such as a checking account or credit card. Then the next time he or she wants to check out, they don't have to pull out a wallet, just a finger. The customer could then choose what form of payment to use from the pre-registered choices.

"They don't have to take their (credit) cards around with them. They don't have the potential of losing them or they don't have to hand them over to some clerk who is working at the store," said Shannon Riordan, director of marketing for Pay By Touch, a San Francisco company that is working on the retail fingerprint technology.

James Coffelt, owner of Business Data Systems in Tallmadge, Ohio, said he believes fingerprint technology will be used in the future for consumers.

"I think there's little question in future years that will be how things are verified," he said.

But not everyone is totally convinced. Steve Pritchard, co-owner of Cash Resister Sales Co. Inc. of Akron, Ohio, said he thinks there will always be some skepticism on the part of the public.

"I don't think there will be total acceptance," he said. But then again, he said, "you're scanning your own groceries now."

As for security, the experts say replicating a fingerprint is going to be a lot harder than stealing a credit card.

© 2004, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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