Japanese palm-reading ATMs to allow card-free transactions


April 11, 2012

Customers of Japan’s Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank will soon be able to access their accounts without a card on ATMs with palm scanners (Photo: 

Customers of Japan’s Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank will soon be able to access their accounts without a card on ATMs with palm scanners (Photo: Shutterstock)

Image Gallery (2 images)

Biometric technology has been boosting the security of a greater array of electronic devices in recent years, including homes, businesses, schools and even wallets. The technology has also made its way into ATMs as a way to beat card skimmers, but these machines still require customers to insert a card. Now a Japanese bank has announced that it will introduce ATMs that allow customers to carry out transactions with a scan of their palm.

Currently, ATMs with integrated biometric sensors identify customers by comparing biometric data stored on their card against data gathered by the ATM – be it fingerprints, palm prints or iris patterns. This means that if the customer loses their card, they can’t access their cash.

Current ATMs with biometric scanners still require a card to authenticate a customer (Photo: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons)

The new ATMs to be introduced this September at 10 branches, a drive-through ATM and two mobile banks by Japan’s Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank will authenticate a customer by only their palm print, their birthdate, and a four-digit PIN – no card required.

After registering their biometric data at a bank branch, customers will be able to withdraw cash and conduct other transactions without a card using the new ATMs. As well as improving customer convenience, the ATMs were developed in response to the large number of people who lost their cards and other forms of personal identification in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and were unable to access their accounts.

Source: Network World, Nikkei

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

2 Examples as to why this will go wrong:

A Germaphobe's nightmare! Skin transmitted deceases (unless you provide a hand cleansing kit or something). Criminals will now chop rich people's hands to withdraw money. Kind of farfetched but possible. Ricardo Richard

I think this is brilliant. All manually run security operations need to go towards biometrics.

It could be a bit of a hassle in some third world countries though, where a large section of the ATM using population has shockingly filthy hands. The machine might go out of order or just get so murky it would fail to identify the user at all !

Atul Malhotra

@Ricardo Richard

Naaaa the same old stickup would be much easier for almost all people all the time.

Mr Stiffy

Typical Japanese BS! They advertise this but they don't have apps for doing your banking online or over your phone.

Dana Lawton

I totally agree with both the views above And yeah we totally need this technology. It will do more good than a few lost hands overall


Great - take one civilization smart enough to have avoided the disease transmission problems of handshakes, and give them a way to play "catch up" all at once.

biometrics is BAD. This year is the first time in history that actual criminals have started stealing more money than fraudulent insiders. And - it's a lot of money. $114bn last year. The reason they've been able to overtake, is because of malware. Criminals can now use viruses and trickery to take whatever authentication data you want. Heck - the article even mentions one of the way - skimming!

Now - if they steal your card data - well - it's a pain. you loose all your money, then the bank gives you a new card, and you're good to og, albeit poorer.

Next - if they steal you biometric data - well - it's a literal pain. you loose all your money, again, then the bank amputates your hand, scans the one you've got left, and you're good to go, albeit lighter.

Wake up world!!


The card + thumb combo is really old but very reliable technology. I have used it 12 years ago in Dubai for simply walking through immigration at the airport. The card brings up the specific data record (read from the card) and then the machine simply compares your thumb print with the record. An armed guard always stood by to ensure proper use. This happened instantaneously. In this situation, loss of card does not matter as it simply can't be used by any one else.

Cardless ID would need super computing power to first scan the palm, then comparing it with jillions of records in the database and then finding the correct one to go ahead with the transactions. Too much load on the resources, in my opinion.


Mythbusters had busted biometric fingerprint security system some time back

Take the target finger or palm print by giving him/her a clean surface e.g. iPad Use some fine powder to brush off the finger/palm prints Scan the fingerprint/Palm prints Print the prints out in transparency in enlarged format Use black marker to darken the lines of the prints Re-scan the transparency & reduce the size of the image & print on a paper or transparency. put on the biometric sensor when nobody is watching. Of course the 4 digit code can be easily seen by someone peering over you at the ATM or skimming...and birthdate from your friends or facebook.

Then your bank account will be emptied.

So Japan, do watch some mythbuster first before you invest in such system...see if they can crack your ATM!!

Simon Tay

The above issues are pretty easy to solve: 1) Scan without touching (have a guide that holds the wrist above the glass, as imaged above) or 2) create an interface that scans an image that has been dragged across (finger print scanner on a laptop I bought four years ago does this quiet well).

Database scans using prints are easy enough. Categorize by a few identifying features and you can get down to a comparison pretty quickly, then making sure the images match is also reasonably simple and something a processor like the one in my phone could do in less time than the data verification on most ATM's. The whole process could easily be encrypted to be at least as secure as any account verification we currently have, besides talking to a real person who knows you.

One assumes, however, that these people still need a card to pay at the store (or use some other relatively insecure payment method). Since this is the point where a lot of fraud happens (pretty easy for an underpaid employee to swipe information off a card when someone hands it to him/her and she/he takes it out of your vision), I don't see this helping much. Also, Mr. Stiffy, I actually agree with you for once. Since all it takes to rob an open bank is a post-it note and pen, it seems unlikely that anyone would bother with chopping off hands, or even stealing biometrics.

Charles Bosse

Nice Article. Nccessity is the Mother-of-Invention! Can anyone say "nueralnet-mapping" ? Future people could have an actual brain-to-computer connection!... Wireless!! *smile. There has to be: Redundant biometric security protocols ( w/HealthControl ) to bring this level of sophistication to the future of commerce. All the above were great (..some kind of valid.. ) points of view. The MythBuster reference was appropriate! Technology will be a saving-grace if used wisely. But life is the chaos theory ~ imperfections help the balance. ~Nikkiva


@Ricardo Richard

I think it will also listen for a beating pulse !

This is addressed to the Germaphobes. Some time back Oprah expressed surprised at seeing Indians eating with their hand. She did not have the common sense to understand the reason of this Indian custom nor the preceding and following rituals. One washes their hands before and after. You never scald your month if you find the food to be too hot to touch. You only use one hand for eating. You NEVER touch anything other than the food in your plate with the stained hand. So much for transmitting decease by skin contact.

BTW we also DO NOT shake hands. We greet by joining hands. Personally I would stop using the ATMs.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles