News & Politics

Amazon’s Pay-by-Palm Technology Is Now Available in DC-Area Stores

You can buy a book with your hand in Bethesda.

Your new credit card: the human palm. Photo by Flickr User Mark Ramsay.

Alexa knows your voice. And now, if you’re shopping at Amazon-branded store around the DC area, she’ll be able to read your palm, too. Amazon’s pay-by-palm technology, originally rolled out last year in Seattle, is now in New York and the Washington area, too.

Dubbed Amazon One, the payment system allows customers to use their hands in lieu of credit cards, giving new meaning to the phrase palm greasing. The tech is currently available at Bethesda’s Amazon Books location, with plans to expand to Amazon 4-star in Montgomery Mall and Amazon Books in Georgetown.

To register for the payment system, users insert their credit cards into a payment device. Moving a palm over the reader, the system begins to log a “palm signature” based on the customer’s individual hand. It’s like visiting a high-tech palm reader—if the palm reader was a trillion dollar company owned by a space-bound billionaire. After the initial enrollment process, the biometric info is stored in the cloud, and all it takes to pay down on Earth is the swipe of a palm. Amazon fathoms a future where the contactless service goes beyond retail, adopted by workplace security systems or stadiums such as Nats Park.

Amazon One’s foray into Bethesda and soon Georgetown is another DC-area inroad for the tech company, which named Crystal City National Landing HQ2 in 2018. The retail giant also just opened an Amazon Fresh location in Franconia last month, with another grocery concept on the way on 14th Street. Washington Business Journal reports more locations of Amazon grocery stores are also coming to H Street and Gaithersburg.


Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.