Changes are afoot in the ATM tech space. Take a look at these innovations changing the way we use ATMs around the world.

  • Or that ATMs in the near future will be equipped with germ-fighting glass to prevent the spread of disease?

But one of the most exciting innovations of all is coming soon to a city near you: ATM machines that do not use debit cards.

It’s already happening in Chicago, where customers of Wintrust Financial can now scan their phones at one of over 200 new ATMs to get cash without using their debit cards. Tom Ormseth, senior vice president of noncredit services for the Illinois-based company, claims that users of their mobile banking app can perform a standard ATM transaction in a mere seven seconds. Wintrust has been testing hands-free, card-free ATM transactions since 2013, and claim to be the first bank in the U.S. to make the new technology, pioneered by fintech innovator FIS, widely available to their customers. And while they may be first, Wintrust is not alone. Doug Brown, senior vice president at FIS, says there are “a dozen more banks in the rollout queue.”

Meanwhile, BMO Harris Bank recently unveiled their new “Mobile Cash” mobile banking app at more than half of its 1,300 ATMs.  BMO Harris customers can download the app and then withdraw cash with a wave of their smartphone. The ATM uses a QR code (quick response code) to verify the customer’s account. Because there’s no PIN entry and no card swipe, it prevents ATM “skimming” fraud, which is responsible for over $2 billion in losses at ATMs around the world.

But it doesn’t end there.  Biometric verification will allow ATM’s to authenticate your identity  using fingerprints, while The FIS Mobile Wallet with Cardless Cash® platform securely stores sensitive information in the cloud, instead of the phone. The combination of a fingerprint and a mobile device will then allow their 30 million-plus mobile users make cardless transactions at ATMs.

And if fingerprint ATM verification isn’t enough, the Royal Bank of Canada and U.K.’s Halifax bank are currently testing new biometric technology that uses heartbeat rhythms. Developed by Canadian firm Bionym, the cutting-edge technology uses the Nymi Band–a slender wristband that measures the cardiac rhythm unique to every person. The bracelet records the wearer’s electrocardiogram, which is then synchronized via Bluetooth, with a banking app on their smartphones whenever the customer transacts with a participating ATM or cashier.

While the idea of using your thumbprint or heartbeat to verify your identity may sound extreme, banks around the world are utilizing biometric technology to prevent ATM fraud and promote financial inclusion.

Consider Inlaks Computers, which is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to introduce Hyosung’s Finger Print Biometric ATMs into the Nigerian market. These fingerprint-enabled ATMs provide significantly-increased security to customers in a country so plagued by ATM fraud, many Nigerians are wary of using ATMs altogether. And then there’s fingerprint authentication’s added benefit of providing access to financial services for customers unable to read or write. Says Tope Dare, Inlak’s Director for Sales and Strategy for e-business, “This financial inclusion strategy will address the banking needs of the unbanked population.

Likewise, PayToo has taken cardless ATMs to the farthest extreme, by partnering with Genmega to launch a cardless ATM network aimed specifically at the unbanked population. PayToo CEO Michel Poignant sees their mobile wallet as an alternative to banks and PayPal, explaining: “We allow unbanked customers, who don’t have access to credit cards and banks, to shop, pay bills, buy music and videos and have access to our digital content catalog. We are providers of a payment system; we get 10% commission from merchants and don’t charge consumers for transactions, which is different from other systems.”

Radical innovations in ATM technology and mobile technology will undoubtedly be changing the way we bank, while potentially increasing access to financial services for millions worldwide. Will they also render debit cards obsolete? Whether your PIN number is replaced by your fingerprint, your heartbeat, or your phone, the ATMs of the future could very well make your debit card a thing of the past.



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