Are Cash Withdrawals Without a Debit Card the Future of Personal Banking?


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Cash will soon be available without a card for many bank customers. Image credit: Vaughan Willis.

This month has seen the announcement of ground-breaking mobile banking applications from both the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), a group which also includes British bank Natwest, and US-based ATM suppliers NRC Corporation.

 ‘There’s an app for that…’

Responding to the growing utilisation of smart phones (the market growth of smartphones was 63% last year), RBS is introducing its ‘Getcash’ software to the 2.4 million customers who already use the RBS and Natwest mobile banking application.

RBS points to the recent numbers of personal account holders who have already used their emergency cash withdrawal feature (which allows a withdrawal without a debit card in cases where the debit card has been lost or stolen) – 60,000 such transactions have already been made in the UK in 2012 so far.

Getcash works by issuing a numeric code particular to each cash withdrawal request, which customers can enter into an RBS ATM. With the scheme still in its infancy, the current cash withdrawal limit is set at £100GBP.

Personal Banking By Smartphone Pioneering in the US

Hot on the heels of the banking breakthrough in the UK is the US-based ATM supplier NCR Corporation. NCR has developed a range of ATMs that also work in conjunction with a smartphone application to enable cash to be withdrawn without a debit card or form of personal identification. The app works by reading a 2-D ‘QR’ code from the screen of the ATM. NCR have released a video demonstration to help answer questions about the way the scheme works.

Cutting Costs: How Viable Is Smartphone Withdrawal Technology?

Downfalls of these developments include the fact that the technology is dependent on participating banks providing compatible ATMs. Investors and consumers will undoubtedly raise concerns about the ability of the banks to fund such new equipment, especially in the light of many major banks already facing increased costs as the banks’ downgraded credit ratings mean an increase to their cost of borrowing.

ATM Fraud: Consumer Concerns

Questions regarding the security of the scheme are sure to arise as identity fraud remains a prime concern for personal banking customers. Could the elimination of a debit card in the cash withdrawal process make it easier for fraudsters to access our account information or funds? NCR claims not, making the point that the implementation of a card-free process at ATMs will eliminate the risks associated with the fraudulent practice of ‘skimming’ (the use of a device, mounted on an ATM, to capture information about an individual’s account and bank card). It also assures potential users of the application that no personal information will be visible on either users’ phone screens or the ATM screens of participating banks.

Both RBS and NCR plan on rolling out the technology throughout the summer of 2012.


NCR Press Release. NCR makes wireless withdrawals in under ten seconds at the ATM. (2012). Accessed June 25, 2012.

RBS Press Release. Cardless ATM is here with Getcash. (2012). Accessed June 25, 2012.

FBI.  Taking a Trip to the ATM? Beware of Skimmers. (2011). Accessed June 25, 2012.

Mobithinking Global Market Statistics. Smartphone shipments by manufacturer. (2012). Accessed June 25, 2012.

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