I found this article this morning. Does anyone else think that this is a "sign of the times?" How much longer will it be before this technology is adapted to a [i]mark[/i] on the right hand or forehead (Revelation 13:16-18)?
[b]Start-up getting financing for fingerprint technology[/b]
[i]By Matt Marshall, Mercury News[/i]
A San Francisco start-up, Pay By Touch Solutions, is expected to announce today $130 million in fresh financing for a novel way of paying for groceries and other goods and services: a machine that reads your fingerprint.
The capital raised -- $55 million of it in convertible notes and $75 million in loans -- will help the company build out its finger-reading payment systems at several nationwide retailers, including in California in the first quarter of next year.
The company has already rolled out its so-called ``biometric'' payment system in a ``couple of hundred'' stores, mostly on the East Coast.
Here's how it works: Customers sign up once, by registering a checking account or a credit card, and showing government identification such as a driver's license. The Pay by Touch technology records the lines and ridges of their fingerprints, and translates the data into a numerical algorithm that is stored in a secure database. The customers thereafter never have to carry a wallet or purse back to the store, and can use their finger to pay for goods across the Pay By Touch network, which now includes stores in 10 states.
Most recently, Pay By Touch announced the system had been implemented across 85 stores in the Piggly Wiggly Carolina grocery chain. The company has also signed a half-dozen contracts with other supermarket chains, including two of the top five in the country, said John Morris, president and chief operating officer.
The goal, said Morris, is to be the dominant player in the biometric transactions area.
Installing the hardware costs a couple of hundred dollars per lane, said Morris, for which capital needs to be raised upfront. Pay By Touch is sharing the cost of each installation, and it gets a fee per transaction of between 12 and 14 cents, he said.
That is cheaper than what stores pay for alternative payment methods, he explained. A credit card transaction typically costs a store about 60 cents for an average $25 purchase of groceries. A debit card costs a store about 50 cents, and a paper check costs 39 cents. Even cash costs a store about 19 cents, after things like handling, shrinkage and the cost of an armored car are factored in, he said.
Pay By Touch will also help manage discount and other store loyalty programs. Customers will be able to swipe their finger into a device at restaurants and see the meals they have already purchased, and waiters can offer them deals based on their preferences and so on, said Morris. The company also wants to introduce the system to the health care arena so that patients can use it for payments and records.
Executive Vice President Gus Spanos said the company sought the large financing on the assumption that there was interest in funding such a deal. ``The capital markets were very open to us,'' he said.
The secured-note backing was led by New York's Och-Ziff Capital Management. San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management and Plainfield Asset Management also invested. UBS Securities acted as agent for Pay By Touch Solutions.
The convertible preferred notes were offered by the Getty Trusts, Ron Burkle -- founder and managing partner of the Yucaipa Companies -- and Rembrandt Venture Partners, among others.