ATM facial recognition enforced for mainland customers

Bank of China new ATM Machine is seen in Macau, on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

Starting yesterday, banks that operate automated teller machines (ATMs) without “Know- Your-Customer (KYC)” technology installed have been requested to suspend cash withdrawals services for mainland China UnionPay customers.

The new regulations, issued by the Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM), aim “at protecting legal interests of financial institutions and mainland China UnionPay  cardholders,” according to a statement issued by the AMCM yesterday. They also serve as a stepped-up measure to curb money laundering.

The relevant services will be resumed as soon as the KYC function is installed, the statement assured.

Holders of mainland China UnionPay cards may still make cash withdrawals through ATMs with a “KYC ATM” logo, after identity verification. They are required to look into a camera for six seconds to allow its facial recognition software to take effect.

Macau residents and holders of cards issued by banks of other jurisdictions are not affected.

AMCM requested that banks implement KYC technology into their ATMs in stages to ensure the protection of mainland cardholders legal rights through the region’s latest efforts in strengthening anti-money laundering measures. Last week, the government announced that as of June 26, there are a total of 670 ATMs with the ability to perform facial recognition scans. They have more recently announced that as of July 2, there were 834 ATMs in the MSAR with KYC technology installed.

The bureau requested that local banks speed up KYC implementation, and is collaborating with them to upgrade all ATMs in Macau, including those within casinos and in their surrounding areas, by the end of this year.  

The bureau is starting with China UnionPay as it is the largest network in Macau and processes the largest amount of transactions.

Other payment providers, including Visa and Mastercard, will be required to support the technology in the future. LV

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