Shell Oil Company, part of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, is testing biometric systems at ten Shell gas stations and Shell convenience stores in Chicago, Illinois that allow customers to make store and gasoline pump purchases by scanning their fingertips on an electronic device.
The systems are directly linked to the customers’ checking accounts or credit cards for payment. The biometric devices are made by a company called Pay By Touch. In order to set up their automatic payment, customers sign up by scanning their fingerprints and entering their payment information inside the station at a kiosk.
Apparently, some customers have been less than enthusiastic about having their fingerprints on file. Shell officials have pointed out that the system is actually less susceptible to identity theft since fingerprints, unlike credit card information can’t be duplicated or stolen and can’t be lost or stolen, as cash can be. As far as privacy rights go, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse indicated that customers who are signing up for such services that store highly personal information should find out whether their information is shared with any affiliates or third parties. Shell claims that it will not share any personal information of Pay By Touch customers with third parties.
Shell said it is the first gasoline brand to try the biometric systems and that customer feedback will determine whether it expands use of the systems.
According to Shell using new technology is about building customer loyalty through added customer convenience and services that save them time. By focusing on retaining customers through good service this ultimately will help Shell stay ahead of its competition, as well.
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