credit & debt

Banks Roll Out Cardless ATM Access

Enhanced mobile apps let you withdraw cash with a smartphone.

Mobile banking has expanded its reach. Wells Fargo recently enabled cardless use of its 13,000 ATMs across the U.S. Bank of America and Chase are following suit, with the former offering cardless access at more than half of its cash machines. Chase is testing the technology in a pilot program.

Wells Fargo customers who want to withdraw money using their phone must log in to the bank’s mobile banking app and request a one-time-use, eight-digit code to plug in along with the card’s PIN. Bank of America users open their digital wallet and hold it over a card reader to activate the ATM, using their PIN to finish the transaction. Like the Wells Fargo app, Chase generates an access code, but no PIN is needed.

One reason banks are adopting this new technology is to counter rampant skimming fraud at ATMs. The number of compromised debit cards at ATMs and retailers rose 70% in 2016, according to credit-score provider FICO, although bank ATMs are generally safer than non-bank cash machines. Still, cardless access has its own pitfalls. A criminal could hack your phone and change the bank settings to access your information. Bottom line: “Diligently protect your phone as you would any other financial product,” says Randy Vanderhoof, director of U.S. Payments Forum.

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