Smile: you’re on ATM camera!

Years ago, I used to joke in AML training sessions that one day CDD would be obsolete because as soon as a baby was born s/he would be tattooed with an indelible barcode which would be used as proof of identity forever more.  The only question remaining was where to put the tattoo…  And since then, if find that we are heading that way-ish.  Back in January I talked about the Aadhar system introduced in India, whereby you record your fingerprints, iris scan, name, date of birth, address and gender, and in exchange are given a unique twelve-digit number which you can quote to prove that you are you – at the passport office, when collecting your pension, and at the bank, for instance.

And now the Chinese – of course – have gone one better.  Earlier this month the Macau government announced that mainland users of UnionPay – China’s only clearing house for bank card transactions – would have to insert their identity cards into ATMs and have their identity verified by facial recognition software in order to be able to withdraw cash.  The stated aim is to foil criminals who pay dirty money into banks and then use multiple ATM cards to exceed the withdrawal limits (about £1,120 a day) which were put in place to make this too tedious a laundering mechanism.  Macau is a cash jurisdiction, packed to the gunwales with casinos, and mainland Chinese baddies do love to deposit their proceeds of crime into banks back home and then turn up in Macau to withdraw it all and live the high life at the tables.  Although the Chinese government tries hard to control capital outflows, casinos in Macau are blossoming and burgeoning, with gaming revenues increasing by about 16% annually.  It remains to be seen how the facial recognition software will cope with the variations to expression that come with winning and losing: perhaps the ability to retain a “poker face” will take on even more importance.

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2 Responses to Smile: you’re on ATM camera!

  1. CDWOS says:

    Interesting!
    I suggested something vaguely similar to the ‘powers that be’ many moons ago to avoid, in such a small island, the need to produce endless repeats of CDD as one moved one’s business from one bank or financial services provider to another. My suggestion at the time was that the regulator or other government body could do and hold all the necessary ID & V for local citizens and in return issue them with a card or other form of official acknowledgement with a unique code that would tie up with records held centrally but it was turned down as being too difficult and costly to introduce!! We’ll get there one day!!!

  2. Indeed: this should be entirely possible in smaller communities (in the same way as Captain Mainwaring, as bank manager, knew the identity of every resident of Walmington-on-Sea!). “Too costly” might soon become a relative concept…
    Best wishes from Susan

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