As the Wu-Tang Clan wisely pointed out, cash rules everything around me, and if a report from TechCrunch is correct, Apple Pay will someday be my ticket to withdrawing real legal tender from an NFC-equipped ATM.
TechCrunch reports that representatives of Bank of America and Wells Fargo admit they’re working on adding NFC to ATMs, to let users “authenticate and complete transactions.” Wells Fargo says it’s first working on connecting its ATMs to Android Pay, but “that doesn’t limit us from considering other mobile wallets.” Bank of America has been an Apple Pay partner since the service’s launch, although reps wouldn’t confirm to TechCrunch that Apple Pay would be the mobile wallet of choice when its limited rollout of upgraded ATMs begins in late February.
Chase is also on the case, announcing earlier this week that it would start upgrading ATMs for cardless transactions “later this year.” While NFC is on the road map, Chase is starting by having customers enter a code from the Chase smartphone app into the ATM, in lieu of inserting a card.
TechCrunch’s report is light on details about how Bank of America’s and Wells Fargo’s NFC ATMs would work, but it’s a great idea, since the same things that make Apple Pay convenient and secure to use at in-store payment terminals apply just as much, if not more, to ATM transactions. While ATMs require a PIN, the fingerprint scanner on an iPhone is harder to crack, and Apple Pay uses one-time-use tokens instead of passing along your actual account details. That also means that if an ATM has a nasty card skimmer attached to it, an NFC transaction wouldn’t result in the skimmer grabbing your card number or PIN.
Why this matters: As a grown adult who still forgets or misplaces her wallet once a month on average, I love using Apple Pay to buy things with my phone. The problem is, of course, that most places still don’t accept it. In my neighborhood, I can use it at Rite Aid and to reload my Starbucks card, but not at the local coffee shop, bagel store, mom-and-pop restaurants, or the convenience store. And it’s been no help those times when I leave my wallet at the office by mistake, walk nearly a mile to the train station, and realize I have no way of paying the fare.
If Apple Pay could be used to grab $40 from an ATM even if I don’t have my card available, it suddenly wouldn’t matter how long it takes for small businesses or my local transit authority to finally support NFC and Apple Pay. I could just grab some cash with my phone instead.