The idea of card-less ATM is a bit of a radical thought. However, in the near future, the multitasking mobile phone could also be the equivalent of owning a bank account. The cell phone is likely to replace good old ATM cards as the instrument to withdraw or deposit cash. Some banks are already piloting the technology and commercial deployments may begin later this year.
ICICI Bank, for instance, has been experimenting with card-less transactions, although it is not known which company’s technology platform they use. The bank has recently launched, on a pilot scale, a new technology that allows card-less remittance.
Bengaluru-based mobile payment solution provider mChek is one firm working with banks in India and abroad to roll-out its card-less technology platform. The firm, which had thus far focused on mobile bill payment, recharge, flight bookings, and movie ticketing, says mobile phones can be the second level of authentication, beyond passwords, for establishing identities. Using two levels, rather than just one, implies a greater level of assurance.
Currently, when an ATM card is inserted into the ATM machine and a pin entered, the combination of the two, which is registered with the bank, is sent for mapping. The transaction is allowed if there is a match.
In a card-less world, the mobile phone number would be registered with the bank and instead of inserting the card into the machine; the user would type in his mobile number on the ATM’s keypad. Then, he feeds in a pre-issued mChek pin number into his mobile phone. This in turn will generate a random 10-digit pass code. When this number is fed into the ATM machine, the combination of the phone number and pass code is sent to mChek servers through the bank for verification. The user can then proceed with his transaction. This whole process would take less than a minute.
Moreover, bank ATMs would not need any major modifications to start offering card-less transactions, except for installing backend software.
There might be at least one compelling factor for banks to switch over to card-less banking; they save on card costs. By replacing cards with the customer’s cell phone, they would do away with the cost of issuing and dispatching the plastic and its pin number.