In 2005, Japan was rocked by the busting of an ATM theft ring. The scam started at an upmarket golf club, where tiny cameras installed in the locker rooms recorded members typing in their four digit locker codes. The thieves then later opened the lockers and used “skimming” devices to copy data off the magnetic stripes of the members’ bank cards. After transferring the data onto blank cards, the thieves then tested these cards in ATMs, using the same four digit locker codes as PINs, banking on human foolishness. Their wager paid off. By the time they were arrested, they had amassed 300 million Yen (almost $4 million US Dollars). In response to this, and a shockingly fast rise in overall ATM crime, the Japanese government demanded that the banks take action. In turn, the banks turned to Hitachi and Fujitsu, and a new dawn of ATM security began.
Using palm vein identification, these companies developed vein scanners that were then integrated into ATMs. Respectively, Fujitsu’s palm scanner, and Hitachi’s finger vein scanner take an image of the customer’s vein work at the ATM, and compare it to a pre registered template, before the customer can proceed with their transaction. However, the grand plan does not end there. It is hoped that, sometime in the future, both PINs and bank cards can be done away with, and that our vein patterns will become our de facto wallets. Currently, about 80,000 ATMs in Japan are as secure as it is presently possible to make them. The technology is also being rolled out worldwide, with banks in Brazil, Poland and Turkey integrating the above technology.