Carrefour’s fingerprint payments to be investigated by Belgian privacy agency
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    Carrefour’s fingerprint payments to be investigated by Belgian privacy agency

    © Belga
    The chain also stressed that this will be a temporary experiment in one store. Credit: Belga
    © Belga

    The Belgian Data Protection Authority has stated that there is “a good chance” it will investigate Carrefour’s fingerprint payment system.

    The supermarket chain announced on Tuesday that it will organise a pilot project allowing clients to pay for their groceries with their fingerprints in a store in the centre of Brussels. The clients will be able to pay by scanning their finger at the cash register, after which the money will disappear from their bank account.

    Several weeks ago, the Belgian Data Protection Authority (GBA) contacted Carrefour informally, after the supermarket announced a similar test in which customers could add points to their loyalty card with their fingerprint, without using their card.

    “We asked Carrefour a few questions and discovered that a test had already taken place,” said David Stevens, the president of the GBA, reports De Standaard. “It turned out that Carrefour had already collected fingerprints. Now that we’ve heard the news about the new experiment with fingerprint payments, there’s a good chance we’ll send our inspectors. I cannot yet formally confirm that we will do that, but I think there is a good chance,” he added.

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    The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy regulations forbid companies to collect biometric data like fingerprints.

    However, “there are exceptions, but people have to explicitly give their consent in those cases,” said Stevens. “And that is more than just a signature on paper. Customers really have to understand the risks. If, through hacking, your password falls into the wrong hands, you can replace it. But you cannot just change your fingerprint, face or the iris of your eye. Hence the strict rules,” he added.

    “We will collaborate with companies who are specialised in security. We are not the first company to collect fingerprints, and there are other companies that collect other, very sensitive personal information from their customers,” said Aurélie Gerth, a spokesperson for Carrefour, reports De Tijd.

    The chain also stressed that this will be a temporary experiment in one store.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times