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Stamping out fraud

BoingBoing linked to this post on Watashi to Tokyo (Me and Tokyo) looking at how Japan's traditional hanko are vulnerable to fraud.

Hanko (also known as inkan) are carved seals or stamps used to mark legal documents, much as people in the West might "sign on the dotted line". But if someone manages to make a duplicate or forgery of your hanko, they can run around forging your mark on all sorts of important papers. Not good.

Well, Japan's centuries-old traditions may have created this problem, but its cutting-edge technology is solving it. Graphics tablet input device maker Wacom has teamed up with stamp maker Shachihata to invent what may be the world's first digital hanko — the Inpplet:

The Inpplet can be used as a traditional hanko, by inking its stamp and pressing its mark on paper documents. But it can also mark digital documents via a special input pad:
By clicking the Inpplet's button, the user can place a personal mark anywhere on the file in question. It also transmits a unique ID and password, verifying the user's identity. It works with Microsoft Office applications and Adobe Acrobat, and will set you back about $100.

Obviously, the Inpplet won't make fraud any tougher in cases where an original paper document is required, but it does bring the Japanese cultural practice of stamping important documents into the digital era.


Anonymous said...

Electric buggy whip.

Posted by RBMN

Anonymous said...

This is a nice gadget, especially for those with probably particularly easy to forge hanko  like mine, which is written in katakana. Then again, I wonder whether a Japanese going in to empty my bank account with a forged hanko obviously belonging to a non-Japanese would raise enough flags to stop him. It's my understanding it wouldn't: If you've got the hanko, you're good to go. 

Posted by Comrade_Tovarich



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