Banking Fintech UX

Why I changed my mind about cardless ATMs

The Starbucks mobile app has helped Jim Bruene change his mind about cardless ATMs. Image: Starbucks
Written by Jim Bruene

Cardless ATMs are becoming de facto in certain parts of the world. Jim Bruene recounts his experience with the burgeoning technology and looks ahead to an earnest US launch.

The so-called cardless ATM has been around a while. I remember seeing one at the Wincor Nixdorf booth at BAI Retail Delivery four or five years ago. I thought it was a good idea at the time, but not something that would change my behavior. I mean, how hard is it to swipe your card and type in a PIN at an ATM? Yet, I’ve done a 180º and now think it will be a standard and widely used mobile banking feature (at least until we get cash out of widespread use). Two recent events changed my thinking:

I began using Starbucks’ mobile ordering. When I first heard about the pilot, I thought it would be useful for busy urban locations, especially Manhattan, but since we rarely have a line at Starbucks in our neighborhood, I didn’t expect it to change my behavior. I was completely wrong. I’m totally addicted to it. When we were in San Jose earlier this month, I kept reaching for my phone to order ahead, forgetting it hasn’t rolled out nationwide yet. And it was a bit annoying. It’s just a better consumer experience to order from your saved transaction list rather than recite the whole thing at the counter.

FIS SVP Doug Brown gave me a live demo at a functional ATM of its Cardless Cash Access solution shown at Finovate two weeks ago (demo video below). Like Starbucks’ mobile order, there’s a small, yet noticeable improvement in user experience. Privacy is improved, control is better and login is easier, but the most important benefit is improved security. Instead of feeling vulnerable fumbling with a purse or wallet at a machine, you just swoop in, scan the barcode and the money spits out at you. FIS data from the Wintrust pilot showed that ‘time at ATM’ was reduced from 40+ seconds to eight or nine (doesn’t include the time it takes on the mobile app to order the cash). As a nice side benefit, cardless access also removes the whole issue of ATM skimming.

Other than in the Chicago area (FIS clients BMO Harris and Wintrust), cardless ATMs are not in widespread use in the US. There are some major rollouts around the world, including:

When it does come to a bank in my neighborhood, count me in. In the meantime, it’s time to fire up the Starbucks app and order another Americano.

Other mobile ATM demos at Finovate

  • FIS first teased cardless cash access in a joint mobile wallet demo with Paydiant, now part of PayPal, at FinovateSpring 2013 (see video below, cash access piece begins at 5:41).
  • PrivatBank launched a mobile-access-only ATM at FinovateSpring in 2014 (see video at this link).

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here.

About the author

Jim Bruene

After developing the first major PFM-based online banking program at US Bancorp in the early 1990s, Jim Bruene went on to found two companies in the space: Online Banking Report and the Finovate conference series. He has been writing and geeking out on digital financial services nearly every day for more than 20 years and is currently Principal of BUX Advisors, a fintech UX/UI consultancy, as well as continuing to help guide content at Finovate events.

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