Macau steps up ATM face recognition to curb laundering

Top News | Phoenix Un 4 Jan 2018

The Monetary Authority of Macao says it has completed installation of a face-recognition system in 1,040 ATMs. Mainland residents need to go through it to withdraw cash in the gambling hub.

Some 90 percent of the total 1,200 ATMs supporting mainland cards have installed the "Know-Your-Customer" - or KYC - technology.

The authority said holders of mainland-issued CUP, Visa, Master, American Express, JCB, Diners Club and Discover cards can go through the normal cash withdrawal process through ATMs after verification.

"The services have been running smoothly and irregular withdrawal activities have been stopped since the implementation of the measures, promoting the security of the financial system of Macau," the authority wrote.

It has implemented the KYC measures since May last year and banks have been putting their ATMs with KYC technology into service in stages.

The authority plans to install the system in all ATMs and extend coverage to more types of mainland bank cards.

The system has a camera to recognize ATM users, who are required to look at the camera for six seconds before they can withdraw cash. The maximum amount of each withdrawal is HK$5,000.

The measure was implemented to tackle money laundering and leakage of capital from the mainland through Macau casinos.

However, mainlanders facing difficulty in withdrawing cash from Macau ATMs have resorted to another method - transferring money from their mainland account to another, and agents in Macau would then give cash to the customers.

Macau commentator Anthony Wong Tung said money launderers are always coming up with smart ways to deal with government measures, but KYC will make money laundering more difficult.

Wong said the measure might not serve to remove Macau from the European Union list of non-cooperative taxation jurisdictions as it involves international relations.

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