Wells Fargo ATMs to accept eight-digit codes, not just cards

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NAB ATMs
Customers withdraw money from National Australia Bank (NAB) Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in central Sydney, Australia, July 24, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

Wells Fargo announces that its 13,000 ATMs will soon allow its customers to access their money with their smartphones instead of traditional bank cards. Account owners will be given a unique eight-digit codes from their Wells Fargo smartphone app and enter the code into the ATM along with their PIN.

Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Tim Sloan unveiled the company’s plan to upgrade its service Tuesday at an employee town hall in Orlando. The American banking company is said to be the first to upgrade all of its ATMs with the said feature across the US.

“Whether a customer happens to have a card on them or not, [the upgrade] provides another simple and secure way to withdraw cash at any of our ATMs,” Adam Vancini, head of virtual channel operations at Wells Fargo, said. The one-time code, however, is not going to work on the secure doors that some branches have for non-business hours. These would require the bank’s customers to swipe an ATM card or a debit card.

The bank said secure doors are found at a small percentage of branches. Most of these are situated in major metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Chicago.

Wells Fargo assured that another upgrade to all of its ATMs will took place before the year ends. The bank plans to allow customers to access the ATMs by holding their smartphones up to a reader on the machine. When the new upgrade comes in, customers will no longer need to enter their eight-digit code. The process would be comparable to using Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

Previously, Wells admitted that employees opened 2 million checking and credit card accounts for the bank’s customers with no authorisation. “There was a serious mismatch between the values Wells Fargo espoused and the incentives that Wells Fargo employed,” William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said at a conference in London.

The bank has responded to Dudley’s remarks through a statement, saying their new compensation plan puts the interests of their customers first. Wells Fargo said it is a pivotal aspect of rebuilding trust with their stakeholders.

Other banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America earlier announced similar upgrades to their ATMs, but ABC notes that the rollout has been slow. Bank of America reportedly said roughly half of its ATMs have the cardless features.