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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 05:20 GMT
Shoppers can pay by fingerprint
Finger scan
The fingerprint system may not work for builders and surgeons
Supermarket customers are being offered the chance to pay for their shopping by using a fingerprint.

Three Co-op stores in the Oxford area are offering the service, which is said to be the first of its kind in Europe.

It means shoppers do not need to carry cash or cards to the supermarket and need not remember chip-and-pin numbers.

"Pay and Touch" allows customers to have a finger scan linked to their bank details so payment for goods can be taken directly from accounts.

The payment system is already in use in the US where nearly 2.5m shoppers have signed up.

It is free to use for customers, who can register at home on the internet or at the participating stores.

Worn-down fingerprints

A Midcounties Co-operative supermarket spokesman told the BBC: "It offers us a slight edge over the competition.

"It's a very tough retail world and anything we can do to encourage more people to shop with us gives us a commercial benefit."

Fingerprint recognition is seen as generally very reliable but it is unclear if many retailers will be willing to pay for the technology so soon after the introduction of chip-and-pin.

Builders could have problems because the manual work wears down their fingerprints and surgeons face similar problems because of all the hand-washing they do.

See the finger payment system in use

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