Thumb Prints Produce Cash in Rural India

New biometric ATMs help the illiterate poor get wages faster
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Apr 3, 2007 11:22 AM CDT
Bank tellers jobs have gotten easier in India   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Payday in rural India now comes with the scan of a fingerprint: Brand new biometric cash machines are letting illiterate laborers collect their meager wages hassle-free. Account holders are issued an ATM card bearing their thumb print information; when they withdraw money, they follow voice commands to retrieve their wages. 

The high-end technology caters to an unlikely set of customers: India's day wage workers, most of whom neither read nor write. The government will use the ATMs to deliver paychecks from its new National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which it promises will guarantee jobs or unemployment benefits to 60 million rural households.