First coins were too heavy so we moved to notes. Then notes were too numerous and we streamlined to credit cards. Now, your wealth can be literally contained within the palm of your hand. Japanese bank Ogaki Kyoritsu will soon start accepting palm authentication, allied to a PIN and date of birth verification, as enough proof of identity before releasing cash from ATMs.
Biometric identification methods are already commonplace in Japanese banks, but the novelty here is that Ogaki Kyoritsu will dispense with the need for a related credit card or bank book. Based in Gifu Prefecture, this is only a small regional bank, so we can consider its rollout of the new ATM system very much a pilot scheme. The plan is to install the new ATMs at 10 branches, one drive-through ATM spot, and two so-called mobile banks (operated from trailers) this September. Customers will need to register certain biological data with their local branch before joining up.
Launching with the slogan "you are your cash card," this scheme is primarily pitched as a way to help people access their money when they've lost their card — in other words, as an emergency replacement rather than the next big change in the way we bank. Still, if it's secure enough, we can't see any reason why the big banks in the country won't follow suit, even if it takes them a little while to buy into the idea.