In a move that seems like it should have happened in the year 2000, a Japanese bank announced it will be installing about a dozen automated teller machines that can read customers' palms to identify them. Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank will be the country's first to introduce the system.
First, Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank (Japanese site) customers will register their biometric information at a branch, according to Gizmag's Darren Quick. Then they'll be able to go to one of the new ATMs and get cash simply by scanning a hand and then typing in their birthdate and a four-digit PIN.
This being technophilic Japan we're talking about, I would have thought every bank there had body-scanning ATMs by now. The thing is, the scanning technology is already out there but still requires every customer to use a card. Essentially the scanning has been an extra security measure.
Following the massive earthquake and tsunami more than a year ago in Japan, scanning started to be seen in a new light. Instead of being extra security, it could mean standard security for customers who need cash in an emergency but don't have their bank cards on them.
The AFP reports that Ziraat Bank in Turkey was the first to use palm-scanning bank machines that don't need a card. In Japan, Ogaki Kyoritsu plans to install the new ATMs at 10 branches, two mobile banks and a drive-through location this September.
Sliding a well-worn piece of plastic into a machine to get cash has long seemed archaic, but I guess adding going card-free in the U.S. would pretty much guarantee higher bank fees. Ugh. As long as old-school plastic still works, I'm in no hurry to scan body parts for a $20 bill.
Then again, there's something potentially freeing about not needing a plastic card. Look, guys, I just place my hand here and cash comes out! Still, I do feel kind of bad for parents who will have to explain how this works to little kids: "No, sweetie. I can't always just make money appear."
Photo: A file photo of a palm-scanning biometric ATM being demonstrated in Japan. Credit: Ogaki Kyoritsu