Japan Post to go with fingerprints for ATMs

Japan Post has decided to incorporate fingerprint scanning in its ATM network rather than using palm-scanning technology, sources said Saturday.

The postal service agency will introduce the Hitachi Ltd. fingerprint technology to make its roughly 26,500 automated teller machines across the nation biometric by the end of March 2009, the sources said.

Hitachi, the nation’s largest comprehensive manufacturer of electrical machinery, and computer maker Fujitsu Ltd., which is pushing the palm-scanning technology, have been locked in a fierce battle for the ATM market.

Japan Post is scheduled to issue integrated circuit cash cards that can record holders’ fingerprint data starting in October in a bid to prevent illegal withdrawal of deposits with the use of forged or stolen cards.

It will remodel 12,000 of its ATMs to make them biometric by the end of September and then replace the remaining 14,500 in stages by the end of March 2009.

Part of the second-phase replacement will be undertaken by the postal savings bank, a unit that will emerge from the planned privatization of the postal system starting in October 2007.

In addition to the postal savings bank, the privatization process will create three other entities under a holding company — a mail service company, a postal life insurance firm and a company to manage the nationwide network of post offices.