Can Amazon Go help the unbanked go digital?
If Amazon’s newly opened Go supermarket is any indicator, shopping with physical currency won’t be an option for much longer. Instead of human cashiers (or even self-checkout stands), the store relies on a range of technology to know who’s shopping and what they’re buying. Amazon then automatically deducts the cost of your items from your bank account. From a turnstile entrance that identifies shoppers by scanning their smartphones to tracking cameras that know what is pulled from each shelf, Amazon Go bills itself as the shopping experience of the future.
But where do the working poor fit into such a future? Or otherwise underserved and rural communities that may not have access to internet connections, smartphones or even checking accounts? You know, all the things that Amazon’s new store demands of shoppers just to get in the door.
As our economy embraces digital transactions while shunning cash, it’s the poor that will be most harmed. “There are many people who are unbanked and cannot receive lines of credit for a whole range of reasons,” Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, told Fast Company, “and a ban on cash would particularly impact the unbanked community.”
Photo courtesy of Ava Systems.