One of the misconceptions in the so-called industrialised world is that developing countries are necessarily less technologically advanced. Wrong.
Having previously written about their drive through banking I risk sounding like a Bradesco corporate evangelist, but their embrace of new security technologies are worthy of another mention. Due to the inordinate amount of local admin I have endured in my first few weeks I have visited at least one branch of most Brazilian banks operating in São Paulo and noticed that Bradesco's ATMs are a little different. Here's a picture of an ATM on Amazonas street right next to my hotel in Vila Olimpia:
You will notice that there is a red contraption on the right hand side. Take a closer look:
What it does is permit the bank to read your vein signature and depending on whether it matched correctly decide whether to allow the transaction to take place. From a user point of view it's quite a simple process once you have registered your blood vessel pattern. When you go to a Bradesco cashpoint you place your hand in the red area and press the "pulso" button. Infrared light will be emitted allowing the machine to record the blood vessel patterns in your hand and match it back to their database.
Nature and biology plays a helping hand (excuse the pun) with veins guaranteed to create intricate anatomical variations both within the same species and in case you were wondering, between different species (your pet would probably struggle with other aspects of the cashpoint anyway). This means the pattern of veins is much more variable from person to person than arteries for example and can be used as a unique identifier. Interesting, huh?
And for you techies the service itself is called Palmsecure and is developed by Fujitsu which also partners with Bank of Tokyo in its home country, Japan. They mention that as it is the deoxidized hemoglobin in the palm vein which absorbs the infrared rays, "the sensor of the palm vein device can only recognize the pattern if the deoxidized hemoglobin is actively flowing within the individual's veins". Technically true but frankly, if your veins are not taking deoxygenated blood back to your heart, you've got a pretty major problem and cashpoint security is going to be the least of your short term worries..
Presumably if there were a cheap way to expand this technology you could get rid of physical money altogether and scan your hand anytime you needed to identify yourself and pay. Wow, how very new, you might say. This year Brazil has snuck one step ahead of us. Wrong again. Palmsecure has been in use at cashpoints for 5 years already as shown by this article and is therefore already old school technology over here..