Polygraphs aren’t just for suspected criminals anymore.
They're also for folks who just want a little cash from their accounts.
Russia’s largest bank is testing a lie-detecting A.T.M. that takes your vitals before dispensing cash. The futuristic machine scans your passport, records your fingerprints and scans your face. It also asks you questions and assesses your answers for lies.
Why all of the Mission Impossible security? Two words: financial crisis.
The New York Times reports that Sberbank, which is largely owned by the Russian government, spearheaded the effort after seeing what happened when consumers couldn't or wouldn’t pay loans, often because they shouldn’t have received them in the first place.
A.T.M.'s will use technology to identify lying by detecting nervousness or emotional distress in an applicant’s answer.
How It Works
New customers could apply for credit cards through the machine, which would ask them questions like, “Are you employed?” and “At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?” The software attempts to identify lying by detecting nervousness or emotional distress in an applicant’s answer. By considering lie-detector results alongside credit history, the bank is hoping to more effectively screen applicants.
If you think this is strange, it's already happening in Turkey, where customers can use A.T.M.'s to apply for personal loans. There, you only have to receive a text message or obtain a note from an A.T.M. stating you're approved for a loan, before stopping by the bank to pick up cash. Unfortunately, it’s proving so popular that analysts fear that easy personal loans may blow up and tip over into a financial crisis.
Revisiting the Soviet Era
Of course, all this high-tech scanning, listening and fingerprint-taking is raising privacy concerns. It doesn’t help that the software is made by the same company that does work for the Federal Security Service, a Russian intelligence agency that grew out of the Soviet-era K.G.B.
While the A.T.M. would be better equipped to prevent a thief from using your credit card, you would have to give up valuable identifying information for the privilege of taking out cash or applying for a credit card. But Russians are actually much more comfortable than Americans with the idea of constant surveillance, making Russia a perfect place to test out the A.T.M.'s.
The Next Big Technology?
The Speech Technology Center says people have trouble fooling the voice stress program, because its method for measuring involuntary nervous responses is similar to the polygraph test's.
But even Victor M. Orlovsky, a senior vice president for technology at the bank, isn’t quite sure of the A.T.M.’s usefulness yet, saying a client might be nervous for reasons unrelated to a credit application. The A.T.M.'s lie-detecting technology will be just one factor among several that determine someone's creditworthiness.
For now, Sberbank says it intends to install the new machines in malls and bank branches around Russia, though there is no set date for the rollout.
Credit Cards and Your Money
Although it remains to be seen if this technology will show up in the United States, there are a few things you can learn from Sberbank’s eagerness to scan and probe its customers:
You'd Be Surprised...
The top five most shocking credit facts
1. You should make sure you are ready for a credit card before you apply; it's up to you to decide how ready you are for another line of credit, because the bank can only make decisions according to what you divulge. Find out if you could benefit or suffer from another credit card here.
2. If your credit score is too low to apply for a card, you can start to work it back up by getting a secured credit card. Find out how.
3. Banks are eager to learn as much about you as they can. Find out the three questions they would ask you if they could.
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