In a nutshell: Have you ever walked up to an ATM and reached for your card, only to discover you left it at home? It's a frustration many of us have experienced, but some banks are adding facial recognition to their machines as a card-free method of identification.

Singapore-based OCBC Bank has enabled facial biometric security on eight ATMs within the island city-state, including the bank's main branches in Tampines, in the Central Area, and at a convenience store, reports ZDNet.

Users will only be able to use the technology to check their account balances initially. The ability to make cash withdrawals will be added "progressively," though OCBC never specified a timeline. After this option arrives, other features will land next year, including cash deposits, funds transfers to other banks, cashcard top-ups, and credit card bill payments.

OCBC said that account balance inquiries and cash withdrawals were the most-used ATM services, accounting for almost 8 out of 10 ATM transactions in Singapore. The company uses Singapore's National Digital Identity infrastructure, SingPass Face Verification, to verify users against a national biometric database containing over 4 million residents' images and identities.

While facial identification at ATMs will doubtlessly bring security concerns, the system has "liveness detection capabilities" to detect and block the use of photographs, videos, and masks. Users also need to enter an identification number before the process begins.

This isn't the debut of ATMs that use facial recognition verification. China unveiled the first machine to include the technology back in 2015, and Spain's CaixaBank started rolling them out in 2019. Its use is especially relevant in Covid-19 times when technology such as this 'Kinetic Touchless' elevator button is reducing the need for physical contact with surfaces.

Image credit: Singapore News Live