Macau Casinos Tighten KYC Compliance Through Facial Recognition

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The government of Macau has begun to improve the region’s KYC protocols through the application of facial recognition software and identification card checks to ATMs in order to combat the issue of money laundering. The news came as head of China's parliament Zhang Dejiang visited the the popular gambling hotspot.

The new restriction is said to be applied only to UnionPay bank cards which are issued by mainland China as the country attempts to halt the impact that the illicit activity that is having a negative impact on the Chinese yuan and the Chinese economy. This method has been introduced as a countermeasure to gamblers trying to bypass the $1,450 withdrawal limits on ATMs that were made previously. Whilst this may not solve the issue of money laundering, it denotes an attitude to combat the criminal activity which will hopefully continue.   

Macau will be keen to show its dedication to combating money laundering in order to retain its semi-autonomous status and provide legal gambling opportunities for Chinese citizens. By forcing facial recognition linked with ID card checks, it may ensure that one person cannot use multiple bank cards or cards that do not belong to them; however, there are methods around this. If this latest measure proves to be less effective, the prospect of implementing increased security and regulatory features through the application of further AI developments or even blockchain technology may well be raised.

As an example: By using permissioned blockchains, it would be possible for a casino to track the movement and ownership of currency as it enters a system to when it leaves. The immutability of the blockchain could also give a permanent record of all transactions and game results for regulators to monitor. In addition, facial recognition could be implemented at various points to identify the people who put money into the blockchain and take money out. With this information, systems could be designed to identify possible instances of money laundering, especially over longer periods of time. Human policing efforts on this scale may be almost impossible but by harnessing artificial intelligence it would be feasible for computers to achieve.