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Business trends

China's vending machines get smart

Palm scanners dispense with need for cash, credit cards, even smartphones

A woman at a smart vending machine in Shanghai scans her palm. (Photo by Daisuke Harashima)

DALIAN, China -- In a sign that China is quickly becoming a cashless society, vending machines that accept mobile payments through advanced identification systems are cropping up by the tens of thousands.

Several of the machines can be found at a mixed-use building in Shanghai. At first glance, they appear to be refrigerated food display cases, similar to ones at convenience stores. But a closer look reveals palm readers.

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