Bank Offers ‘Faster and Safer’ ATM Access, Without a Card

Customers of this major U.S. bank can make cash withdrawals using just a smartphone. Here’s how it works, and why it’s more secure than the traditional system.

Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank has introduced what it calls a faster, and safer, way to access its automated teller machines. The bank’s mobile app allows users to interact with its ATMs via a QR code (the little boxes that look a bit like black and white static).

The ATM will display the QR code, which can be scanned by the user’s smartphone (iPhone or Android). The customer then types how much cash they want into the phone and the machine spits it out. The whole transaction takes about quarter the time of a traditional ATM transaction, according to bank executives. Customers can also set up a default (say you always take $60 when you use the ATM) to speed up the transaction further.

The app is touted for speeding up ATM transactions as well as improved security. No information about the transaction is stored in the ATM or on your phone. By replacing the ATM card, the system averts some of the ways that thieves have been able to access accounts including counterfeiting of cards and hijacking the information on the magnetic strip.

The bank’s new approach to ATM transactions comes as theft from ATMs has skyrocketed to its highest level in 20 years.

BMO Harris is the 16th largest commercial bank (measured by total assets) in the United States. It has more than 600 branches and 1,300 nationwide, concentrated in the Midwest, according to it’s website. The site also offers videos showing how to use the Mobile Cash feature on its app.

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Stacy Johnson

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