This week, Wells Fargo became the first large bank in the U.S. to upgrade its entire fleet of ATMs to offer its account holders card-free cash via one-time access code mobile technology.
Wells Fargo customers may now use any one of the bank's 13,000 ATMs with only a mobile phone.
Later this year, the bank will expand cardless ATM access with "tap and pay" technology for NFC-enabled smartphones. Currently, more than 5,000 of the Wells Fargo ATMs support the technology.
In his commentary for the recently released ATM Future Trends 2017 report (get yours now, it's free!), Jonathan Velline, head of ATM and branch banking at Wells Fargo, wrote that "rather than innovating for innovation’s sake, Wells Fargo prioritizes innovation with a purpose and a deliberate focus on bringing value to customers."
The following excerpt from a banking.com blogby Colin Gordon, NCR Corp. Self-Serv Marketing Manager, seconds the notion and argues that engaging with advanced ATM technology will be crucial to the future livelihood of banks of all sizes all over the world.
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Contactless withdrawal from ATMs is not a brand new technology, but it is one that is starting to gain serious traction across the industry. In a webinar exploring how ATMs can keep up with the growth of contactless at point-of-sale, Paola Araco, product manager at NCR, noted that there have been implementations of this technology in the ATM channel for the past few years. However, it is only recently that it has started to generate "huge interest" all over the world.
Speaking to Banking.com, Ron Delnevo, executive director for Europe at the ATM Industry Association, said he was somewhat surprised that it has taken this long for contactless or cardless withdrawal in particular to start to gain serious attention from banks. He pointed out that it has been available as an emergency measure for a number of years, with customers whose card is lost or stolen able to get a one-off code from their bank to use an ATM. However, it is only recently that this concept has started to make a real impact in the ATM channel.
One key advantage of contactless withdrawal that will be equally appealing to banks and customers is the potential elimination of certain security threats. Card trapping and skimming, for example, will no longer pose a risk if there is no need for the customer to physically enter a card into the machine.
Delnevo pointed out that the advantages of such ATMs aren't restricted to domestic markets.
"There are all sorts of innovations taking place at ATMs, where it would be very helpful to go cardless. As an example, money transfer through ATMs is soon going to become a really hot topic," he said.
"Instead of going into a retail establishment and doing a money transfer using one of the money transfer services, you'll simply be able to go to an ATM and make a money transfer and then somebody in another country will be able to collect that money from an ATM. And how much more convenient for them [the recipient] to operate on a code basis, with a one-off code, rather than actually having to have a card they use at the ATM."
Delnevo said there is "massive potential" in contactless technology at ATMs, adding that ATMIA sees it as a "very positive development" for the industry. He also disagreed with the idea that growth in card payments could spell the end of ATMs, arguing that it's even possible that the ATM channel will outlive cards.
Keep up or get left behind
Contactless withdrawal is just one example of the technological development and innovation taking place not just in the self-service channel, but across the retail banking sector as a whole.
It's indicative of the fact that, for banks, relying on traditional processes and familiar technologies isn't enough. Modern-day consumers expect services to continuously evolve and improve to cater to their needs.
Big investments will always come with questions about what sort of return the business will receive. But if you are tuned in to what your customers want and where the industry is heading — and have taken the necessary steps to get your investment right — making a bold move could be the best strategy for your business and its customers.