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article imageCiti trials cardless, screenless ATMs controlled by your phone

By James Walker     Oct 26, 2015 in Technology
Citi has started testing a next-generation ATM design that has no keypad or display. Instead, it is controlled by the user's smartphone in what is being billed as a faster and more secure way of getting money.
The Consumerist reports that Citigroup is now testing the "Irving" ATM by manufacturer Diebold. The small device may look unfamiliar to users today but it is being pitched as a much more practical solution for the future.
The only visible control on the front of the Irving is a small slot through which the machine issues its money. Everything else the user would need can be accessed via their smartphone after scanning a QR code printed onto the ATM's fascia, above the output slot.
Using NFC, the phone can communicate with the ATM and verify the user's card credentials using built-in technologies such as fingerprint or facial recognition, iris scanning or a traditional password. A request for money can then be entered and sent to the ATM which releases the funds through the slot in the front.
In the future, the solution could be a natural extension to the payment systems already being built into modern smartphones. Services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet could simply be expanded to add support for requesting money from ATMs, letting the consumer use apps they are already familiar with to access funds securely. It negates the need to stand tight against a wall to shield an ATM's keypad which could have already been compromised by card skimming devices.
An option of letting the user request money in advance could also be added, making it possible to access money immediately on arrival at any ATM by just tapping the phone against it. This would make it impossible for criminals to look over the shoulders of people entering details on their phone, allowing the user to request money at a secure location and then access it quickly and easily without having to produce a card, PIN or even a phone when standing outside the bank.
Irving also uses less than one third of the space of today's bulky ATMs. Banks could install more of them side-by-side, even when in restricted locations or at smaller branches.
The potential issue with an ATM controlled remotely is the prospect of a hacker being able to intercept the link between smartphone and bank, letting them steal card details remotely or force the ATM to spew out high-value notes. The data connection would have to be created with a secure purpose-built technology to minimise the risk of exploit but even then absolute security could not be guaranteed, an important consideration when the effects of any successful attack could be devastating.
Cardless ATM systems have been in development for years but are yet to see a widespread roll-out in any major city. Chip and PIN looks set to stick around for many years to come and it remains unlikely that Citi will be extending its trials of the screenless Irving system to the public any time soon.
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