Bank automated teller machines (ATMs) with facial recognition technology have been installed since Monday in some places in the mainland China city of Zhuhai, next door to Macau, according to several mainland media reports.
A Tuesday account by the Chinese Financial News – managed by the People’s Bank of China – noted several ATMs in Zhuhai’s Gongbei district now had it.
Gongbei in Zhuhai, is the busiest land checkpoint for travel between Zhuhai and Macau (pictured).
It was not clear in the reports, how many ATMs in Zhuhai might eventually be installed with facial recognition equipment.
Facial recognition has been in use in some Macau ATMs since 2017, reportedly to verify the identity of those using mainland-issued China UnionPay Co Ltd bank cards. Its utilisation in Macau has been linked by some investment analysts and casino industry commentators with attempts to monitor more closely cross-border money flows from the mainland to Macau.
In Zhuhai, there had been cases of “excessive” ATM cash withdrawals in “certain” districts in Zhuhai in recent years, in some instances leading to a rapid emptying of the cash machines, according to the recent reports by Chinese media outlets, citing information from mainland authorities.
The media reports suggested some “excessive” cash-withdrawal incidents in Zhuhai, had links to criminals engaged in telecom frauds, and fund transfers for “cross-border” or “Internet-based” gambling.
Mainland China residents are prohibited from gambling online. In addition, China recently amended its criminal law, in order to penalise anyone who “organises” mainland Chinese for the purpose of overseas gambling.
Facial recognition aimed to combat the illicit activities of “leasing” or “trading” of bank cards, whereby people other than the card holders, were allegedly using multiple cards to move money around, the mainland Chinese media outlets reported, citing remarks by the People’s Bank of China, Zhuhai branch.
The technology used for identity verification would combat telecom frauds and “cross-border” gambling crimes by “cutting off” the money ties supporting these activities, mainland media reported, citing also the People’s Bank of China, Guangzhou branch, and Zhuhai’s Public Security Bureau.
Additionally with effect from Monday, the authorities have stopped at some Zhuhai ATMs a service whereby cards issued by various banks, could be used in a single machine, said the media outlets.