Forgot your ATM card? Use your phone

Sharon Fisher//September 11, 2018

Forgot your ATM card? Use your phone

Sharon Fisher//September 11, 2018

photo of cardless atm
Using a cardless ATM is a three-step process. Photo courtesy of JPMorgan Chase.

Idahoans will now have more opportunities to use ATMs with their smartphones rather than a card, as JPMorgan Chase joins Wells Fargo in offering the service in the state.

Chase began offering the service quietly in May, after piloting it in February, at its 30 Idaho ATMS. The move is part of a rollout that saw the service become available to 15,000 of the company’s 16,000 ATMs nationwide.

photo of paul silva
Paul Silva

“Regardless of whether you have an Apple or Android phone, as long as you have your debit card in your mobile wallet, you can access an ATM with the cardless feature,” said Paul Silva, market director for Idaho for JPMorgan Chase. Users still have to know their personal identification number code, he added. “Somebody can’t just get your phone and break into it,” he said.

photo of julie fogerson
Julie Fogerson

Wells Fargo began offering the service in Idaho in March 2017, and it is available at 13,000 ATMs nationwide, according to Julie Fogerson, assistant vice president of Idaho regional communications, in Boise.  In its first year of service, almost 7 million card-free ATM access codes have been used nationally for ATM transactions, including more than $850 million in transactions, she said. Idaho statistics were not available.

Both Chase and Wells Fargo provide the service using near-field communication (NFC), which requires, first of all, that the customer have a smartphone with them, and that the smartphone supports the communications protocol. It is the same technology used in smartphone mobile wallet technology such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, and in fact Chase is partnering with those companies on benefits like loyalty programs, such as Samsung Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

In addition to convenience – people typically have their smartphones with them, though they may not have their ATM cards – cardless ATMs, especially ones using NFC, are considered to be more secure because there isn’t a card that someone could steal or find. In addition, they are not susceptible to card-skimming, where someone puts a device inside an ATM card slot to steal information from inserted cards.

“Cardless is an encrypted wireless transaction with minimal risk of skimming or cloning,” said Robert Siciliano, a member of the board of directors of the Identity Theft Resource Center — a San Diego-based nonprofit that raises awareness of identity theft – and a security analyst with Hotspot Shield, a downloadable virtual private network program. “No card, no compromise.”

That’s not to say that cardless ATMs are a security panacea (see box). Some users reported early on in the technology that people obtained their bank account information, called their bank and added a cell phone number to their account, then used that cell phone to withdraw money.

For now, it appears that primarily national banks such as Chase and Wells Fargo are providing the technology in Idaho, though Idaho Central Credit Union plans to offer the functionality soon at a single location in Rexburg. Idaho Central members will be able to get cash without a card via video chat at the new Rexburg Innovation Center, scheduled to open September 4, using its new ILTs (In Lobby Tellers), according to Marion Oswald, card services manager.

photo of malcolm hong
Malcolm Hong

Otherwise, local and regional banks and credit unions are not planning to offer the service yet, according to company representatives. “We have no immediate plans to implement this technology,” said Malcolm Hong, communications officer for Zions Bank in Boise.

“We do not have immediate plans to implement cardless ATMs, but we are continuously evaluating new technology across all our delivery channels,” said Josh Botnen, director of digital strategy and client experience for First Interstate Bank.

photo of trent wright
Trent Wright

“We have considered it and researched implementation,” concurred Elizabeth Thomas, vice president of marketing and development for Pioneer Federal Credit Union. “At this time we do not have it on our calendar to implement, but we are always looking for ways to reduce friction for our members’ access to their money, and this would be a great option for that.” Cardless functionality is also typically available only on a financial institution’s own ATMs.

The technology is likely to be more broadly available in the future, said Trent Wright, president and CEO of the Idaho Bankers Association. “Consumers will dictate the speed at which cardless ATMs take off,” he said. “But IBA believes that all of the nation’s 6,000 banks will offer cardless ATM access within five years, once the technology matures and past security concerns are resolved. Consumers want everything on their phones — why should a cardless ATM experience be any different?”

Security tips for cardless ATMs

The Idaho Bankers Association recommends following these tips to protect a mobile device:

  • Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Log out completely when you finish any type of mobile banking session.
  • Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
  • Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
  • Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
  • Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a Social Security number on your mobile device.
  • Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
  • Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
  • Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
  • Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of notifications (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
  • Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so don’t perform banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.