What's the Latest Development?

Responding to a request from the Japanese government to cut rates of ATM fraud, two of the country's major electronics firms, Hitachi and Fujitsu, are working on a new biometrics system which reads the pattern of veins in your hand as a unique identifier. The technology is not showy and experts consider that a plus. "After you insert your bank card, you get a screen prompt to place your finger in a plastic notch built into the ATM. Near-infrared light shines from both sides of the notch, and a camera below records the resulting image of the veins in your finger, which is compared to your registered template."

What's the Big Idea?

About $1 billion is lost in cases of ATM fraud annually, so finding a simple solution is priority for governments, banks and individuals. Vein-reading technology appears to be superior to voice and face-recognition, which are cheap and easy to use but not ready to go public. Iris recognition systems are secure and accurate "but they require users to carefully position their heads and keep their eyes open." It's a process too cumbersome for busy bank customers who want to get their cash and get on their way. Eventually, banks hope to allow customers to ditch their ATM cards and use their hands buy goods and conduct bank transactions. 

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