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Wells Fargo brings cardless smartphone cash withdrawals to its 13,000 ATMs

Alex Spencer
Photo: Mike Mozart

US financial services company Wells Fargo has introduced the ability to make withdrawals from its ATMs using its app – without requiring a credit or debit card.

Following a pilot in select locations, the service will be rolling out to its 13,000 branded cash machines across the US – and 20m app users – from Monday 27 March.

The only machines that won't be available using this method are those in the entrances to metropolitan branches, which are locked away behind secure doors. After hours, users will still need to swipe a card to gain access.

The system uses an eight-digit security code, which is requested using Wells' app, as well as the user's PIN code – a two-step process that the bank says should reduce the chance of fraud.

"Security certainly was a big aspect of the cardless feature and the two-step identification helps reduce the risk of fraud," Jonathan Velline, Wells' head of ATM, told Reuters.

Wells' next step will be to expand beyond this method, however. According to CBS, it plans to introduce the ability to make withdrawals via NFC – closer to the contactless experience users may be familiar with from the likes of Apple Pay.

It will become the first US bank to introduce cardless withdrawals nationwide in the US, beating competitors like Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America – all of which have announced similar initiatives but not yet rolled them out – to the punch.

That could be a vital point of differentiation for Wells, as it attempts to turn around its fortunes. The bank admitted last year that up to 2m accounts were opened without customer authorisation, leading to a 40 per cent year-on-year decline in new accounts.