Hong Kong on Alerts as ATM Withdrawals Surge

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ATMs at Hong Kong recorded an increase in cash withdrawal rate, prompting scrutiny from monetary authorities, in January 2018.

The banking industry and police report that mainland Chinese are withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars using up to 50 cards at a time.

The gambling hub of Macau in 2017, introduced facial recognition technology at ATMs to target illicit outflows from mainland China. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) declined to provide data on cash withdrawals at ATMs over the past three months, however, said monthly cash withdrawals using mainland bank cards increased significantly in 2017.

“The HKMA is aware of media reports about people using multiple mainland cards to withdraw cash at ATMs in Hong Kong,” the central bank said in a statement, adding that it was “monitoring the situation and is in discussion with the banking industry and the police about this issue”.

“I have to clarify that we have never seen that number. We don’t know where that number comes from. The number of monthly withdrawals, actually, is very volatile but it never reached that high a level,” he said.

In January 2018, around 90 percent, or 1,040, of Macau’s ATMs were integrated with “know your customer” (KYC) measures, including facial recognition technology.

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