Wells Fargo customers will soon be able to use their smartphones, rather than their cards, to withdraw money from the bank’s ATMs. The company announced that as of Monday next week, it was upgrading all 13,000 of its cash machines across the United States with smartphone functionality, requiring that customers provide only their PIN and an eight-digit code (generated from the Wells Fargo app) to access their accounts.
Both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase also have similar technology in the works, but Wells Fargo’s move makes it the first major bank in the US to roll out cardless cash withdrawals at its ATMs. The company trialed the project at select locations earlier this year, and says that it should provide more security for customers, as well as more convenience.
"Security certainly was a big aspect of the cardless feature and the two-step identification helps reduce the risk of fraud," said Jonathan Velline, Wells Fargo’s head of ATM and branch banking. Two-step authentication is not a perfect security method, but Velline said it should help cut down on the methods currently used by criminals, such as credit card “skimming” devices inserted into ATMs. The shift to digital may also help the bank regain some of the luster it lost last year, after it was discovered Wells Fargo employees had created 2 million fake accounts to bolster their sales figures — a revelation that reportedly reduced the number of customers opening accounts with the bank.