facial recognition atm
World's first facial recognition ATMWeibo/CNTV

China has unveiled the world's first facial recognition ATM, which will not allow users to withdraw cash unless their face matches their IDs.

The machine was created by Tsinghua University and Hangzhou-based technology company Tzekwan, China's Xinhua news agency reports.

It has a camera installed in it that captures the facial features of the user then compares it with a database of identification photos.

It looks at biological features and the developers say it can identify people even if their facial features have changed.

Tzekwan chairman Gu Zikun, an expert in anti-counterfeit technology, said the machines will soon be available on the market – although it is unclear how it will collect facial data or who will manufacture the machines.

Gu believes the machines will help police crack down on a range of financial crimes. As well as preventing thieves from accessing other people's accounts, the ATM records the serial number of every bank note deposited – meaning clients who deposit fake money can be identified.

The machine is 20% more accurate at verifying the authenticity of multiple currencies compared with the average ATM used globally.

ATMs based on biometrics have been the subject of discussion for several years, with a number of technology firms looking to develop machines based on facial recognition, fingerprints and other information.

However, the technology is yet to take a major foothold because of security concerns and cost, while key questions remain about its viability.

"What happens if someone had plastic surgery to look like someone else," one person pointed out.