At the same time that Rich Witkowski was demoing PIN4 in the exhibition hall last Wednesday at ATMIA US 2016, he was also engaged in the rollout of what he describes as “the first open cardless cash network” in four major U.S. cities: Chicago; Los Angeles; Miami; and New York.
Pin4 is a payment and authorization network that provides real-time cardless cash withdrawals at any enabled ATM. The company’s patented process provides “instant cash in hand” to consumers and opens up a new payment channel for P2P businesses and other companies that are looking to enhance their promotion, loyalty and rebate programs.
While it’s new to the U.S., PIN4 is well established in Europe, where it’s operated for the past four years under the HalCash name — chiefly in Spain and the Netherlands, according to Witkowski, the company’s U.S. CEO.
To initiate a PIN4 transaction, the issuer — this could be a financial institution, money servicing business, rebate fulfillment house, or government entity, among others — enters the recipient’s cell phone number, the transaction value, and a unique four-digit PIN into a mobile app. The issuer then sends details of the transaction — in real time — to the recipient’s mobile phone.
“There’s two text messages that [recipients] receive,” Witkowski said during a demo for ATM Marketplace. “One of them is a link to a locator map, basically saying which ATM in the area is … available for a PIN4 transaction. The second one is the credentials that you need in order to withdraw.”
These items include the four-digit code, the amount being sent, and the time window for completion of the cash withdrawal.
At the ATM, the recipient begins by entering his or her phone number (the system accepts both domestic and international numbers).
“That’s the first point of identification,” Witkowski said. “The second point is the value I sent you — say, $20. And then the four-digit PIN code you have in that text message.”
Finally, the recipient enters “the most important point of authentication” — a secret code. To ensure security, this code is sent through a different data stream than the PIN code. It can be communicated via phone call, email or a separate text.
In the demo at ATMIA, authorization details are received in real time and funds are immediately available for withdrawal at the PIN4 ATM. In the real world, the process is just as instantaneous, Witkowski said. “By the time you get that text message, your order is available at an ATM.”
PIN4 is launching its U.S. venture in collaboration with Payment Alliance International, which operates one of the nation’s largest independent ATM networks with 60,000 machines, according to the company’s website.
As of the launch date, PIN4 has two partner organizations, Witkowski said.
The first is Viamericas, an MSB business doing about $1.5 billion in business annually, mostly south of the border, he said.
“They want to enable the domestic market, so if you live in New York and I live in L.A., you could send me money for my birthday or whatever. Banked or unbanked, it doesn’t matter.”
The second partner is Cash for Health, a promotional organization. According to Witkowski, Cash for Health works with three of the top five healthcare providers in the U.S. to promote healthy lifestyles.
As an example of how the companies work together, a smoker who attends a stop-smoking class might receive a $20 reward from their healthcare provider. Cash for Health would use PIN4 to send that individual instant compensation via the ATM.
For the sender, this means no cost for checks or stored value cards, or for handling, postage and processing.
Witkowski said that PIN4 also has fielded enquiries from government entities. Medicare is looking at the network as a means for distributing vouchers to reimburse patient travel and copays.
Also, he said, the prison system is considering PIN4 as a way to provide ex-convicts with “walking money” upon release — “either via the phone, or we actually can have the credentials given to them at the time of checkout from the prison so they can access their funds at the ATM.”
Finally, he said, PIN4 is talking to card networks about using the service as a source of emergency cash for cardholders. In this case, a customer whose card was lost could contact the card company and request emergency cash via PIN4 to tide them over until a replacement card arrived.
Witkowski said that the software for PIN4 integrates easily into existing systems.
“What the ATM owners like, is that it’s just software. There’s just four pieces of data we’re capturing — it’s not all this code that they have to download. It’s a very light overlay and it works on any machine.”
An FI can integrate the application program interface into its existing mobile banking app, he said.
PIN4 already has agreements in place with Genmega and Nautilus Hyosung America to add PIN4 capability to their machines.
Witkowski is enthusiastic about the company’s prospects in its new market:
“Cash isn’t going anywhere and as companies and consumers increasingly look for mobile solutions that reach beyond simple cash withdrawals, our technology is the very first to equip ATMs to facilitate P2P transfers as well as rewards and promotion redemptions. With Pin4, ATMs become mobile money terminals.”