BMO Harris Bank introduces smartphone ATM option

An ABC7 I-Team Report
CHICAGO (WLS) -- BMO Harris Bank has introduced a new smartphone app allowing customers to make ATM withdrawals without using their ATM card or PIN numbers at bank ATMs across the country, including 400 ATMs in Chicago.

It may just be a matter of time before other banks join in. BMO Harris updated its existing app and upgraded machines to use Quick Response, or QR, one time only-readable bar codes. Customers launch the app and sign in, then scan the barcode for their transaction at the ATM.

"I think it is a much more secure approach versus just using a regular credit or debit card," says Aurimas Adomavicius, president of Devbridge Group, "because how often do you change your pin on your debit card right? I haven't changed mine in 10 years."

Adomavicius, who is a banking security expert and member of the Illinois Technology Association, says he believes smartphone technology in this vein will reduce fraud overall. BMO Harris says smartphone technology eliminates one of the most common risks of using debit and credit cards.

"From a safety standpoint, this is much more secure than using a card because it can't be skimmed, it can't be photographed," says Jim Kappel of BMO Harris. "It is all on your phone."

But users do need to have a passcode lock on their phones to protect against thieves, especially if they are signed into the app before they are at the ATM.

"They would have to literally take the device from you and run to the ATM within a couple of minutes, and try to take the money out," Adomavicius says.

All of that would also have to happen before the app signs a user out due to inactivity. Customers will still be able to use their ATM cards the traditional way, as the smartphone withdrawal system is only an option.

But some tech experts believe it's more secure than relying on a four-digit PIN. Some people have been known to write their PIN numbers on their ATM cards, which no one should ever do.
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