Contactless cash: The future of the ATM?

Cash isn’t going anywhere… but now more banks are letting us withdraw it using smartphones rather than cards.

Despite all the excitement around a cashless future, thanks to the uptake of contactless payment technology, there are still plenty of reasons to use old-fashioned money – and new technologies can help make the process of withdrawing it easier.

Barclays is the first UK bank to offer contactless ATMs, where users – only Barclays customers for now – can withdraw up to £100 by simply tapping their card or smartphone at the machine.

Barclays contactless cash machine spotted in London

The service, which is more common in the US, works in two ways. The quickest approach is for customers to enter the required amount and their PIN into the Barclays app, then tap their phone against the machine (it only currently works with NFC-enabled Android phones). Alternatively, they can tap the machine with their phone or contactless card, then enter their PIN at the ATM and choose the amount to withdraw.

With just a few in-branch ATMs in the North of the UK offering this service at the moment, Barclays aims to have 600 around the UK by January 2017.

It’s likely to keep customers’ accounts more secure, as would-be thieves will be less able to see the PIN as it is being entered (on a phone) and the risk of magnetic card-skimming and what Barclays calls ‘distraction fraud’ is reduced.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK said: ‘We are always looking for new ways to make our customers lives easier and their finances even more secure. Our customers now expect to be able to use their smartphone to make their everyday purchases. We want taking out cash to be just as easy. With Contactless Cash customers can quickly and securely take-out money with just a tap of their smartphone – a first for the UK.’

RBS introduced a card-free solution to cash withdrawals several years ago, with the Get Cash feature to help customers in an emergency. People could withdraw up to £130 using a code that was sent to their smartphone.

Meanwhile, Westpac in Australia offers customers the ability to get ‘cardless cash’ from a Westpac ATM, also using a cash code that is sent to their phones.

In the US, a partnership between FIS with Payments Alliance International (PAI) meant that iPhones could be used to withdraw cash at 70,000 ATMs. PAI is America’s largest, privately-held provider of ATM processing and maintenance services, while FIS provides financial services technology. The partnership – FIS Cardless Cash – allows users to withdraw cash using Touch ID, thanks to QR codes and a related app.


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