Left your wallet at home? You may still be able to grab some cash.
As of Monday, Wells Fargo is the first major U.S. bank to offer a card-free option at all of its ATMs. The bank’s customers will be able to use their smartphones to access any of the bank’s 13,000 ATMs. Other major U.S. banks have rolled out card-free ATMs in limited locations.
Here’s how it works: Customers must download and log into the Wells Fargo app on their smartphones and request an eight-digit code, which they can type into an ATM instead of inserting a debit card. Next, they enter their PIN, just as they would if they were using their cards.
The card-free option can be more secure than using a debit card, says Jonathan Velline, head of branch and ATM banking for Wells Fargo, because it reduces the chance that fraudsters can steal and copy the numbers on your debit card. The smartphone app generates a unique code that expires within 30 minutes.
Plus, consumers using the app have to prove their identity on their smartphones – either by providing their thumb print or by typing in their online banking password – in addition to entering their PIN numbers. (With your physical debit card, you only need to provide the PIN code.)
Consumers can expect to see more cardless ATMs over the next couple of years. JPMorgan Chase is testing the technology at some locations, while Bank of America has introduced a card-free option at about half of its ATMs. For Bank of America, some machines currently accept mobile wallet programs, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. Consumers need to only tap their smartphones on or near the ATM, provide their passcode or thumbprint on the phone, and then enter their PINs into the ATM. Wells Fargo says it is upgrading its ATMs to incorporate the digital phone readers and hopes to make the mobile wallet technology more widely available throughout this year and next year.
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