You can almost feel the momentum building. Back in October, at its innovation lab in New York, Citi was testing an ATM that had no screen, no keypad or even a card reader. Instead, the ATM turned a user’s mobile phone into the screen using NFC technology.
Skip to 2016 and in February reports emerged from the US suggesting JP Morgan was planning to roll-out cardless ATMs that would work with smartphones. The following week, a new partnership was formed between US digital payments giant PayPal and banking technology firm FIS. The firms announced that their whitelabel solution for banks to integrate into their mobile apps lets customers “order” cash from their nearest ATM at the touch of a smartphone from more than 2,000 locations in the US. Cardless ATMs have been around for some time, but they seem to be at an inflection point.
Now, another company has joined the fray. Pin4, an open cardless cash network in the US, announced the launch of the first phase of its nationwide rollout, bringing consumers in New York City, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles cardless access to cash at Pin4-enabled ATMs.
“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,” said Richard Witkowski, chief executive officer of Pin4.
The process of withdrawing money is straightforward, using dual-pin verification: Pin4 sends a text to the money recipient’s phone revealing a secure pin, which they enter along with a code the sender has provided. There is also a feature that allows the recipient to find the nearest enabled ATM using the Pin4 app on their phone.
The company will continue expansion throughout the year and will have full nationwide access in fourth quarter 2016.
We went from an under-the-radar testing last year to three different companies either rolling out the product/unveiling launch plans for this year in as many weeks. Clearly momentum is picking up. And why wouldn’t it? As we explored at length, ATMs in recent times have seen a resurgence in popularity due to their protean qualities: working with Bitcoin and offering more complex services such as personal finance management. It makes perfect sense for them to work with the biggest technologies. Especially when it makes them more efficient.
Diebold, the company that created the screenless ATM that was tested by Citi, actually said that by stripping away the keypad, screen and card reader, its machine’s depth is reduced by as much as 32 per cent, and on the consumer-facing side, it is up to 37 per cent narrower, when compared to other standard ATMs in the market. The company also said using mobiles streamlines processes and shaves time off of transactions.
As the year progresses and these next-gen ATMs become more ubiquitous, it will be interesting to follow their effect on mobile payments, which many thought would be much further along in terms of popularity and usage. Will they benefit from the infrastructure provided by a network of ATMs or are consumers still struggling to find the method as convenient as debit or contactless cards?