Am I Wrong, Or Does Cardless ATM Banking Sound Like More Trouble Than It’s Worth?

Either I need to try it myself or somebody needs to dumb the concept down even more for me, because this cardless ATM thing sounds like it would kind of be a pain in the arse.

Here’s how cardless cash machines work at Wintrust:

Consumers can use their Wintrust mobile app to preset how much money they want to withdraw from the ATM on future visits. Once they arrive at the ATM, they sign into the mobile banking app on their phone with their four-digit password. On the phone, they select the cardless cash option, which then opens the smartphone’s camera. Then, on the ATM screen, the customer touches the “cardless cash” button, which creates a QR code, a square matrix-style bar code. Customers hold their smartphones over the QR code on the ATM screen, tap submit, and the ATM dispenses their cash. The receipt heads straight to the phone.
The consumer only needs to touch the ATM once — to pick the “cardless cash” option. The withdrawal takes about 10 seconds, compared with about 40 seconds for a traditional ATM withdrawal, Wintrust said.

Right off the bat, this sounds wrong. Wouldn’t you actually have to touch the machine twice? Once to select the option and then again to pull your cash out of it? Admittedly that one’s a bit of a nitpick, but I bring it up because they’re already over selling the convenience factor just a little.

Speaking of the convenience factor, how is having to take the time to pull out my phone and then open and log into an app with my banking password any more convenient than rummaging through my wallet for my bank card?

But the bigger issue, or at least one of them, is why would you bother to preset the amount you want to withdraw? Not sure about you guys, but these days if I need to pull cash out at all it’s never a constant amount. It’s what I owe somebody I can’t pay online or over the phone, either that or whatever I think I might need for a trip to someplace like a concert or a baseball game where dead tree money makes it easier to pay for beer, snacks or merch. This isn’t 15 or 16 years ago when I didn’t have a credit card and a place having debit wasn’t a sure thing so I often would grab $40 or $60 to use as walking around money. Presets now would be more of a hindrance than a help.

And then there’s the lord, this is gonna suck for the blind guy factor. What might take most people the 10 seconds they tout here is likely going to take me substantially longer for a few reasons.

All bank machines are different, for a start. My bank’s are different than your bank’s which are different from the one’s at Jim’s bank and so on and so on. I’m not using the machines at your bank or Jim’s bank very often, so I’m not going to be memorizing where the handy cardless cash button is. That leaves me two options should I ever happen to find myself having to use one of them, which I will. I can either spend far more than 10 seconds looking for help that I don’t think will rob me, or I can plug headphones into the machine if it has the talking option and let it guide me to that point, which I assure you will be more than a 10 second process.

Once I’ve managed to do one of those things, we arrive at the camera problem. Yes, ATM screens are pretty small, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to get the full code into the camera’s field of view on my first try or even my second. And even if I do, how am I going to know that? Does the submit button only appear or become mashable once the app sees exactly what it needs? Will there be some sort of audible or vibration cue to let me know I’ve done it properly so that I don’t have to keep flicking around the screen, likely jiggling the camera and slowing myself down in the process?

I love the security benefits (at least until the crooks inevitably find new holes), but the logistics seem a little sketchy. If we get this up here I’d be curious to try it out, but unless it blows my mind I’m probably sticking with the good old bank card.

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18 comments
  1. You mentioned security, which was my first thought. Followed very closely by “Oh Jesus hello kitty Christ on a rocket-powered toboggan this is exactly what any qualified hacker needs”.

    I mean think about it. Right now if John Q. Nobody wants to rob you blind (ha), they at least need to be holding the plastic in hand to shove in the machine to do it. Which probably, if you’re any good at protecting what’s yours, means you’ve got bigger things to worry about at present than who’s holding your debit card.

    They’ve taken that verification step away. It only takes one small vulnerability in that banking app to open your PIN to pretty much anyone who wants it. That this doesn’t really warrant much concern in the article is probably reason number 8472 to run screaming in the opposite direction, blind guy issues or no.

    I honestly hope this thing dies a quick and painless death–and that has surprisingly little to do with the fact I finally disabled tap-and-pay on both my current debit cards because holy bloody insecure, Batman.

    1. I like that it takes the possibility of card skimming out of the equation, but you know damn well that soon enough there’s going to be a way to intercept the communications made between phone and machine and we’ll be back where we started. Well, unless there’s strong enough encryption to make it not worth the effort, but that’ll need to be some pretty strong encryption. I know each transaction is its own code, but somewhere in that process there has to be a way to identify you.

      And I’ve got a confession to make. I kind of dig tap-and-pay. It’s good for those times when you’re trying to get assistance from somebody who hasn’t mastered the English thing.

      1. Eh. It has its moments, but I like the idea that you actually need to be making a conscious effort to use the thing. Not to mention if you have more than one account on your card, it assumes you want the first one it comes to… which may or may not actually be the plan and you’ll just need to do it twice anyway (this has happened). I”ll fight with someone’s grasp of English, thanks.

  2. I had my card skimmed and had no idea until the “loss-prevention” branch of the bank called me and asked me if I tried to take 200 bucks out in Vegas. Um how ’bout no? My card never left my wallet except to go in a debit pad somewhere…and I’ll never know where. But yeah, eeewww this sounds like a disaster.

    1. That happened with my parents’ creditcard a number of years ago. They ordered a couple tickets to a show in Vegas over the phone. couple days later, somebody who wasn’t them used their card to stock up on tacos, of all things.

      1. The over the phone credit card thing happened to Carin a bunch of years ago too, because Carin has the worst luck. She ordered us some I think it was KFC one time and the next thing you know, pretend Carin is going on a sports memorabilia and I believe pizza shopping spree. I’m glad I’ve never had to deal with anything like this, but of course now that I say that…

      2. that happened to my credit card too. The dude bought 60 bucks worth of pizza and then went out and bought baseball memorabilia…and then returned it! What a dope-face. The return was what caught my attention and got him a nice firin’ and a police investigation.

        1. Yeah that’s right. I forgot about the returns. Not sure how he didn’t think his victim would notice that, but it’s nice he had an attack of conscience or whatever.

          1. not that much of an attack, the arsehole went and cash advanced himself 500 bucks. By then the account was frozen and they were just track trackity trackin’ him so they could drop a train on him.

  3. total beams there. Oh yeah and my folks’ card was stolen and the guy went on a porn-buying spree. Mom was reading off the sites she was asked if she frequented. That, that’s a weird experience, hearing your mom talk about porn sites.

    1. The fact that I was not present for this conversation honestly breaks my heart a little.

      1. hehehe. It was about as good as when she told that joke about the dude trying to make his…um…parts bigger like those of a black dude. That was also weird.

        1. Why do I miss all the really good stuff?

          1. aww damn I thought you were there for that one.

  4. I don’t remember being there for it, but I’ve heard you tell the story so many times that I might as well ahve been.

  5. I dunno why but the first thing I screamed when I saw this title was “They’ll put the chip in ya!” Also not there for that, but heard it enough times. 🙂

    1. lol. Ah Tim. I need to email him.

      1. That chip thing makes it seem funny whenever I’m out with him and he pays for something by debit.

        I emailed him the other day but haven’t heard back yet. He usually takes a while.

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