Learning English - Words in the News
23 November, 2007 - Published 12:01 GMT
Germany fingerprint shopping
German consumers are ditching cash and plastic in favour of fingerprint shopping. Specially registered shoppers can pay by placing their finger on a checkout scanner, avoiding the need for cash or payment cards. This report from Steve Rosenberg:
A supermarket in southern Germany is the setting for a retail revolution. What is changing is not what people are buying, but how they're paying for it. I watch as one customer completes her shopping at the checkout. Instead of reaching for the handbag and taking out cash, or credit cards, or a cheque book, she puts her finger into a scanner and takes a receipt.
She's one of a quarter of a million Germans who now foot their bills with their fingerprints. Turning your digit into a debit card is simple - you just register your bank account details together with your fingerprint in the shop's database. But how safe is it? Ulrich Kipper is the IT manager who developed the system:
ULRICH KIPPER: The probability that fingerprints can be mixed up is one to 10 million. So it's a fairly low probability that we make an error. If you compare it to the likeliness of being out in the night and being robbed, I would say this happens rather frequently, and I would say with the fingerprint system we are fairly on the safe side.
Your digit can also double up as a loyalty card - so as well as paying with your finger, you can also earn points with your pinkie. And it's not just supermarkets. At some German schools, students are now using biometrics to buy their school dinners. Finger food - German style.
Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Berlin
a retail revolution
foot their bills with their fingerprints
a loyalty card