China opens its first bank without bankers
SHANGHAI: Missed paying dues on your Communist Party membership? There's a bank for that — and it's fully automated. A state-owned Chinese bank has opened an automated branch equipped with facial-scanning software, a virtual reality room, a hologram machine, talking robots and touchscreens for paying utility bills, among other functions.
The branch opened last week in central Shanghai's Huangpu district and is being hyped as China's first "unmanned bank."
Beijing-based China Construction Bank says the hightech branch is meant to make banking more convenient, personalised, and efficient. It also reflects growing competition from cashless payment systems that are giving the banks a run for their money.
A robot greets customers at the entrance and answers questions using voice recognition software. Clients can swipe their national identification cards to enter the bank — or scan their faces using the bank's facial recognition device. Machines inside allow visitors to buy gold, change currency, or scout real estate investments using virtual reality googles.
The bank isn't totally unstaffed. Guards still stand sentry, and a room equipped with teleconference software allows VIP clients to request help from human employees based elsewhere.