Diebold and NCR Corporation, leading players in the automated teller machines market, are developing technologies to enable cell phones or PDA’s/Smartphones to transact with an ATM. NCR has been developing technology for linking hand-held communications devices with ATMs since 2001. NCR already uses such technology in Denmark and Singapore.
Over the past 18 months, Diebold has won five U.S. patents for applications that enable mobile devices to interact directly with bank ATMs. The patents involve allowing banking consumers to use their mobile devices to locate and get directions to the nearest ATM, order cash withdrawals remotely, generate electronic checks, transmit wireless payments, and generate various other transactions by linking to an ATM. Diebold claims the technology underlying these patents exceed current mobile banking practices, namely online transactions.
One patent allows mobile phones to interact directly with ATMs and bank systems for cash withdrawals, with protection against card-skimming or personal identification number surfing at ATMs. Another patent allows mobiles to work at checkouts or banks to pay payments via secure electronic checks. A third patent allows bank networks to receive wireless communications from mobile phones for account information. The fourth allows bank ATMs to communicate with mobile devices through a cellular network or other wireless methods. The fifth patent allows users to interact with ATMs through the wireless device’s display and keypad instead of the display and keypad on the ATM.
For one, those not comfortable with entering a PIN code in a public place (ATM) can use a mobile device to enter the PIN. Here’s how it works: First, the mobile device user would receive a one-time code, which would then be entered when arriving at a specified ATM. The user could insert an ATM card and the one-time code, and the ATM would then know to complete the transaction.
A study last year found that people in the United States conduct about 8 billion ATM transactions annually. The Dove 2006 ATM Deployer Study shows that ATMs dispense about $600 billion in cash each year. With close to 200 million handsets in use in the United States, it’s easy to see that there may be a significant overlap between ATM users and mobile phone users.
Diebold has estimated such applications will be widely available within three to five years. I doubt anything mainstream in terms of accessing ATMs from mobile phones will happen soon. But, look out for banks to start testing some of these services, mainly out of security concerns.