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Macau Advances Use of Iris Recognition To Enter City

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The first phase of testing for a new method of immigration and customs clearance utilizing iris recognition has been completed in Macau. The next step will include the installation of 500 iris recognition and clearance devices at six different border check sites in the city.

Macau Advances Tech Control

A new immigration control legislation was approved by the Legislative Assembly of Macau in August 2021. This law gives the government the authority to collect iris data from persons entering and leaving the territory of Macau.

After the Public Security Police Department (PSP) notified the Community Advisory Committee that the first phase of iris biometrics clearance testing had been completed and that the system has been upgraded, the Macau government made an announcement on Thursday on the most recent development in the iris biometric clearance process.

In the second phase, the government of Macau will invite members of the local population to test out the technology. If the test is successful, the technology may be implemented across all entrance points in its entirety.

During the next phase, residents of Macau aged 18 and older will be required to have their irises scanned in order to gather data and pass customs clearance tests. During the third phase, the identity will be connected to the Macau Resident Electronic ID Card.

Because of this, it will be optional for locals to utilize physical identification cards when leaving or entering the territory. The Iris Clearance System was first implemented in March by Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, who emphasized that the collecting of iris data was entirely optional.

Macau Revenue Soars in July

It is also not clear at this time if or when the technology will be used on visitors from other countries. After Macau's gaming regulator announced this week yet another post-pandemic high in July, a Macau gaming industry scholar predicted Macau's total gaming income might reach as high as MOP190 million (US$23.7 billion) in 2023. This comes even as Macau plans on moving away from its dependence on gambling.

Total gaming revenue in Macau was MOP15.21 billion (US$1.89 billion) in June and MOP16.66 billion (US$2.06 billion) in July, an increase of more than 4,000% year over year and 9.6% from the month of June. Academics anticipate FY23 results to be much greater than had been predicted before, with sales potentially reaching as high as 70% of 2019 levels, or MOP$190 billion. Revenues are likely to easily surpass the government's MOP130 billion (US$16.2 billion) projection.

Iris technology is already being used in certain countries, such as Singapore, which started employing complete face recognition and iris clearance in the year 2020. Other countries still need to adopt this technology.

After having their iris data registered with the Singaporean government, visitors from other countries are eligible to utilize the recognition system for expedited customs processing. According to the reports, this has drastically cut down security clearance time, which is now down to only 20 seconds.

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