Updated 2:00 PM EDT, Wed, May 20, 2020

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Macau Launches Facial Recognition Tech for UnionPay ATMs

Harrods Customers Use UnionPay Debit Cards To Make Purchases

(Photo : Getty Images) Advertisements letting customers know of the ability to use UnionPay debit cards at Harrods are shown on February 3, 2011 in London, England.

Macau is requiring users of China's UnionPay bank card to present their identity card and pass a facial recognition scan to be able to withdraw cash, the local government announced on Monday.

"The holders of UnionPay bank cards issued in mainland China that want to withdraw cash from ATM machines bearing the 'KYC ATM' [Know Your Customer] logo will have to present their mainland China resident identity card and their identity will have to be verified via facial recognition performed by the ATM," the Macau government release said.

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The initiative on UnionPay ATM machines is Macau's latest effort to boost its anti-money laundering policy in the only territory in China where gambling is deemed legal.  It also aims to strengthen the KYC protocols of Macau's financial system, and ensure that businesses could identify and verify their customers' identities properly.

 "The government spares no effort to implement anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism rules," the document said.

The new technology will cover all UnionPay ATM machines in Macau, including those inside casinos and neighboring areas. But the document did not mentioned when the changes will take place.

Furthermore, Macau said that the new system will be gradually introduced across the market, although a definite timeline has not been provided. Of note, non-mainland China-issued UnionPay bank holders are exempted from the verification procedures.

According to Reuters, several mainland Chinese netizens use their state-backed UnionPay cards to get around cash withdrawal limits of $3,200 per day and then use the money to either gamble or send abroad. Many clients also tend to open multiple bank accounts and withdraw cash from each. Sometimes, pawn shops in Macau are used to make fake transactions.

Such move aims to help Chinese authorities from preventing billions of dollars' worth of outflows that have not only decreased the currency's value but also drained capital reserves, Bloomberg noted.

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