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Goldfingers in China

Carol Ko | Nov. 6, 2008
Nine Shanghai banks are rolling out fingerprint recognition payment systems.

The use of biometrics in China has recently taken a big leap from authentication to payment. By the end of 2008, customers of nine Shanghai banks will be able to settle payments with a finger touch.

Shanghai was the first city in Asia to implement fingerprint recognition system. At present, the Shanghai branches of Agricultural Bank of China, ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), and China Construction Bank allow customers at paybyfinger-enabled point-of-sales to complete transactions.

Other banks in Shanghai are busy preparing to launch the fingerprint recognition system, including Bank of Communications, China Minsheng Banking Corporation, China Merchants Bank, China Citic Bank, and China Everbright Bank. According Live by Touch, the China-based biometrics technology application provider, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank is expected to launch the first fingerprint recognition-supported credit card soon.

The recognition technology is tamper proof and counterfeit proof. Forged or duplicated fingerprint images cannot pass the recognition system, says Tan Tieniu, a research fellow at the Centre for Biometric Authentication and Testing (CBAT), Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), who is also the president of the Institute of Automation and deputy secretary-in-general of CAS.

In the recent 16th session of the annual China International Exhibition on Financial Banking Technology and Equipment, Su Ning, deputy governor of The People's Bank of China said: In 1991, the first transaction at the Shanghai Stock Exchange was made via computer. In 1992, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange entered into operation. In 1993, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges began transmitting data via satellites. In the past ten years or so, the stock markets in China have been developing rapidly. At present, there are a total of more than 1000 million stock accounts, and capital transaction volume reaches over RMB 400 billion (about US$58.5 billion).

With a paybyfinger account, Shanghaiers can now purchase items at designated stores, pay their gas and electricity bills, obtain medicine at pharmacies and even eat noodles with their fingerspaying by leaving their fingerprints on fingerprint recognition processors. The next marketing strategy for Chinas insurance companies is the introduction of finger-insurance policies.

Carol Ko is the Deputy Editor of MIS Asia and is chiefly responsible for covering stories of CIOs and senior IT managers in North Asia.


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