Shanghai gets automated bank with VR, robots, face scanning | 4/23/2018 | Staff
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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 and Communist Party fees, among other functions.

Branch - Week - Shanghai - Huangpu - District

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 high-tech branch is meant to make banking more convenient, personalized, and efficient. It also reflects growing competition from cashless payment systems that are giving the banks a run for their money.

Greets - Customers - Entrance - Answers - Questions

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.

News - Bank - Spread - Throngs - Observers

News of the newfangled bank spread rapidly online, drawing throngs of curious observers. Tian Ting, a finance worker, said she was impressed after touring the branch one Friday morning.

"These days, people are less and less likely to be inclined to want other people to come and bother them," Tian said. "We hope to come to a bank where we can interact with machines."

China - Construction - Bank - Infrastructure - Projects

State-owned China Construction Bank, founded in 1954 to fund large scale infrastructure projects, is the second largest bank worldwide as measured by assets, and seems an unlikely tech pioneer.

Analysts say the bank is responding to pressure from internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent, which are transforming Chinese consumer finance with mobile applications that enable...
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