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Why You May No Longer Need Your ATM Card


Just a couple of years ago, there was buzz about using cellphones for ATM transactions. Wintrust Financial was an early adopter, and then the discussion quietly dissipated. But, there’s big news.

According to a recent New York Times article, “JPMorgan Chase, which has more ATMs in the United States – 18,000 – than any other bank, has activated this technology on a few hundred machines in four test cities, including Miami and San Francisco. Six thousand more are already upgraded and ready to go.” The New York Times also reports that Bank of America and Wells Fargo plan to introduce cardless options to all their machines by the end of the year.

We’ve already seen society shift from cash to card, and we fully expect an additional shift to having the cell phone replace both.

“The world is going mobile, and mobile drives engagement. Today, many of us rely on our phones for everything,” says Jon Rosner, vice president, digital consumer experience for Fiserv.

According to the Expectations & Experiences: Household Finances survey conducted by Fiserv, 60 percent of consumers said they can’t leave home without their phones. The only items consumers are more apt to say they can’t leave home without are IDs (72 percent) and keys (68 percent).

Is it time to kiss your ATM card goodbye?

“Some say there will be a day when the wallet you carry in your pocket or purse will become obsolete. Technology is evolving in a way that will likely eliminate all our credit cards, store cards, and IDs. We will use our mobile devices as our primary means of commerce and identification. The technology behind mobile wallet combines near field communications (NFC) and applications. Depending on which is used, a user might need to wave their phone near a reader to make a payment or verify identification, or they may open an app and simply click a button,” explains Robert Siciliano, CEO of

While now reportedly, less than 3% of ATMs in the U.S. can handle cardless transactions, some experts believe it could be as high as 25% by year-end.

What’s the advantage of using a cell phone instead of an ATM card?

For one thing, it can be somewhat faster. In an era of speed, speed, speed, bankers are guessing this alone makes it enticing to people with too little time.

Safety is key too. Crooks won’t be able to manipulate ATMs to skim your crucial information and you can take comfort in knowing that a thief would need to have both your mobile device and the log in information to your bank’s mobile app to get their hands on your money. That’s surely a bit of a security blanket. “Fraud rates are significantly lower from cellphone transactions than card withdrawals,” says Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment.

He loves the idea of cell phones replacing ATM cards. “Currently, when I leave home in the morning, I have my house/car keys, wallet, cellphone and pen. If I could carry one item, that would be great, as there isn’t much room in my pockets. The downside is that the battery on my iPhone is poor and if I were to run out of power, I would not be able to access ATM facilities.”

Much as things are changing, some folks will cling to their ATM cards like gold, and some banks will be very slow to adopt new technology. But eventually, says Johnson, “We will soon live in a world where people no longer carry ATM cards and leave their wallets at home. We’ve already seen society shift from cash to card, and we fully expect an additional shift to having the cell phone replace both.”

jennifer   |     |   Comment #1
I am scared about the thought of having to insert my cellphone into an ATM and what if it doesn't spit it out again at the end of the transaction?
And then I am without my cellphone.

I simply couldn't be without it. I simply adore technology but i don't see myself inserting it into an ATM.
damfino   |     |   Comment #2
Your concern is well placed, Jennifer. I used one of these newfangled ATMs in Freedonia last week. I inserted my ATM, got 20,000 of their currency, but instead of getting my phone back, the machine gave me an autographed photo of Freedonia's president.
anon   |     |   Comment #3
Not to mention that your cel provider knows everything about you (just google Verizon and SuperCookies) and celphones are getting hacked with malware all the time.

Long Live Freedonia!
Lrdx   |     |   Comment #10
You don't insert your phone to the ATM, it's communicating through NFC / Bluetooth.
RJM   |     |   Comment #4
I don't have a newfangled cell phone or its $30-40 a month bill.

And I haven't used an ATM in at least 3 years.
!!!   |     |   Comment #6
I don't either. However from what I hear from others, a $30-40 phone bill would be very a very cheap bill!

Also I have never used an ATM, and personally have no need to rely on an ATM anywhere.
outtempster   |     |   Comment #8
I hardly use ATM too. I do keep a couple of ATM cards in case i need cash right away.
jennifer   |     |   Comment #5
I've never been to Freedonia, but when i was in Europe last summer i tried to use canadian dollars in England and they wouldn't let me which made no sense at all because they were part of the same thing.
outtempster   |     |   Comment #7
"Fraud rates are significantly lower from cellphone transactions than card withdrawals", that's because the rate of using phone for $ transaction is much lower than cards. China is ahead of us on using phone to do a lot of $ transaction, and I saw news on how hackers can withdraw $$ from your account without your phone :)
That being said, it is a new era which will definitely impact how we bank....
LuvCD   |     |   Comment #9
Never have used an ATM. Don't like the tie in to other accounts, unlimited liability, etc.
Att   |     |   Comment #11
I watch many young people pay using their Smartphones. Seen it at McDonald's. My 84 year old mother prefers going into the bank and get cash. In the future most people will be using Smartphones for ATMS and transactions and getting to the bank in a driverless vehicle.
!!!   |     |   Comment #16
And will be TOTALLY LOST in cyber space should the system ever have a major disruption or go down from technical malfunctions or terrorism, sabotage, etc.

Modern technology is great, however, it's not good to become totally dependent on it.
Bozo   |     |   Comment #12
Some seven years ago, I flew into the Kansas City airport. I advised the car service I would be wearing a red baseball cap. When I arrived, the driver asked why I didn't just use my cellphone. I replied I had none. She was taken aback. Even today, I have no cellphone. I do have an ATM card. I use it about once/month.
Att   |     |   Comment #13
I do not watch TV but have a Smartphone. My kids don't watch TV the eldest is 12. I do not have cable TV but we have Internet service. With electronic banking and charge cards I rarely go to the bank or ATMS. Bills are paid electronically.
Ann   |     |   Comment #14
I have a cheap pay-as-you-go smartphone that doesn't have the NFC chip built-in. It seems to be mostly offered in the expensive high-end smartphones (Samsung, Apple, etc).
Rosedala   |     |   Comment #17
Hi Ann, which phone do you have where you can pay as you go? I'd use it very very infrequently so...

Thanks to the author for a very interesting article! I never use ATMs and presently don't have a cellphone. I use a regular credit card and it suits me perfectly as only rarely do I find a store that doesn't accept the card. ;)
RJM   |     |   Comment #19
My cell phone plan from about 10 years ago was one where I got the phone and $50 worth of minutes for $50, then I added another $50 card to get gold status right off the bat. That meant my minutes didn't expire as long as I added more minutes every year. So I add $10 every year and I still have, I don't know 1200 minutes. I pay 10 cents/minute. My phone stays off unless I turn it on which is rare. Every 2-3 weeks I recharge it.
unmesh   |     |   Comment #20
There are a number of prepaid "PayGo" plans available where you deposit some money with them and pay on the order of 5c per minute or text. If you already have a phone that works with a particular mobile carrier, you can find the associated plan on

My mother had a Sprint phone and is on Tello. Someone I know uses Lycamobile on the T-Mobile network and they get free incoming text messages.
Ann   |     |   Comment #21
I have a Sprint-compatible phone, sold for Virgin Mobile but never activated there, that I'm using on Tello with no monthly plan, just a $10 pay-as-you-go deposit that will last for months since their fee structure is so favorable for low-usage phones. I got my phone a couple years ago, it's hit-and-miss with phones bought today intended for Virgin/Boost/etc being able to activate on companies like Tello, but some people have reported ongoing success with the LG Tribute HD.
bnm   |     |   Comment #23
consumer cellular
cactus   |     |   Comment #18
"The only items consumers are more apt to say they can’t leave home without are IDs (72 percent) and keys (68 percent)." 28% leave home without their ID??? 32% without their keys. Those statistics don't make sense.
Ann   |     |   Comment #22
Yeah, I thought that seemed odd. Maybe they were counting going out in your bathrobe to get the newspaper or take out the trash, lol.
!!!   |     |   Comment #24
I don't find that "odd" at all. I must be among the 28%. Perhaps people feel insecure without them?

No big deal. "To each, their own".

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