Expert warns about security risks in using face scanners in ATMs across China

Updated 2017-09-15 10:00:35 Global Times

Face scanners on ATMs, while being convenient, might not be totally secure, an expert said, after Chinese banks began to install the technology in their cash machines.

Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) announced that it has installed facial scanning technologies in its cash machines around the country, the Guangzhou Daily reported on Thursday.

HSBC also said on September 6 that it was offering facial scanning functions on its mobile bank app, making mobile payments safer and more convenient, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

"The facial scanning technology could bring great convenience to daily life, but there are still risks and hidden hazards," Qin An, director of the China Institute of Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Criminals could use fake simulation masks to imitate human facial characters to steal information or money using 3D-printing technologies," said Qin, adding that it would also infringe upon users' privacy if the biometric data bank was hacked.

According to Xinhua, China Merchants Bank cash machines have a cap of 3,000 yuan (7) per day for anyone who wants to withdraw money using facial scanning.

In 2016, China Merchants Bank installed the facial scanning function in thousands of its cash machines in 106 cities.

China's facial scanning and recognition market has reached more than 1 billion yuan in 2016 and is estimated to reach 5.1 billion yuan by 2021, according to Xinhua.

Although there is a social trend to make everything more convenient, relevant financial institutions and enterprises should take responsibility to safeguard their customers' financial and information safety instead of merely focusing on the pursuit of advanced technologies and convenience, said Qin.

Apart from banks, mobile phones are also adopting the new technologies. Apple on Tuesday unveiled iPhone X, which enables customers to unlock, authenticate and pay using Face ID.

Chinese netizens have expressed concern over the security of new iPhone's Face ID, as mobile payments become more and more prevalent in the country, with many saying that it is not safe for users if they can unlock the phone with just looking at it.

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