Japanese ATMs to use palm readers in place of cash cards

A local Japanese bank says cardless ATMs are well-suited for natural disasters where customers lose their cards

A Japanese bank will introduce ATMs that use palm scanners in place of cash cards, it said Wednesday.

Ogaki Kyoristu Bank said the new machines will allow customers to withdraw or deposit cash and check their balances by placing their hand on a scanner and entering their birthday plus a pin number. The ATMs will initially be installed at 10 banks, as well as a drive-through ATM and two mobile banks, from September.

Ogaiki announced the new ATMs with the slogan "You are your cash card."

One reason the bank decided to use the new technology was the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country's northeast coast last year, it said. Many who escaped the tsunami lost their homes, personal possessions and all forms of identification, and so were unable to access their bank accounts until weeks or months later.

Finger and palm scanners are currently used by many large Japanese banks along with cash cards as an additional safety feature, but Ogaki said it will be the first bank in the country to do away with cards all together. The bank has branches mainly in Gifu Prefecture of central Japan, about 250km west of Tokyo.

The bank will use the new ATMs at fixed locations and in its two roving banks, which are built from large mobile homes. One is meant for emergencies and is equipped with a satellite dish on the roof and a large screen for television broadcasts. The other is in use in areas where there are no bank branches, moving between set locations such as shopping mall parking lots throughout the week.

The palm-scanning technology in the ATMs was developed by Fujitsu, which uses the vein patterns in a person's hand to check their identity. Fujitsu has said its technology can quickly differentiate between hundreds of thousands of people, and the company also sells products such as computer mice with built-in palm readers that can be used in place of passwords to log users in to online systems.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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