Hands-on: NFC-enabled ATMs make it easy to withdraw cash with a smartphone

We tried out one of Bank of America's NFC-enabled ATMs to see how quickly we could snag cash using Android Pay.

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Android Pay and Apple Pay may be picking up momentum, but cash is still relevant. So what do you do if you’re living a wallet-free life, but need to grab some paper money from the ATM? This is where NFC comes in handy. The same mobile-payments chip that you use with your smartphone at the checkout stand can be used at the ATM, too. 

Bank of America is one of the first major banks to deploy NFC-enabled ATMs. The company currently offers some 2,800 terminals around the U.S., with 5,200 more coming by year’s end. The nice thing about NFC is that no arduous setup is required. All you need is an Android Pay or Apple Pay profile with your debit card already activated. 

Now you can snag some cash while leaving your wallet—and plastic—at home.

Simply straightforward

Cash may not be the preferred method of payment like it used to be, but there are still instances where I wish I had a couple of bucks to quickly buy my morning coffee, or pay for parking. Cash is also great for maintaining a budget on a shopping excursion, which is why I especially appreciate the ability to grab cash from my account with just my smartphone.

Using an ATM with Android Pay is almost identical to using the machine with your bank card. But rather than digging through an overstuffed wallet for a piece of plastic, you simply connect your phone to the machine over NFC. After that, it’s the same familiar process: Enter your PIN, grab your cash, and go.

NFC payments also add an extra measure of security. First off, the process is quicker—you won’t have to dawdle as you wait for the machine to spit out you card. Second, the card is protected by Android Pay and Apple Pay’s existing security measures, meaning you’ll have to scan your fingerprint or use a pin number or pattern unlock before you can use it. This, in conjunction with your PIN number, makes taking out cash a two-factor authentication process that’s more secure than using plastic.

NFC-enabled ATMs were all but pre-ordained when the first mobile-payment systems were announced. Still, it’s nice to see that Bank of America is rolling out these ATMs en masse. The technology really does make it easier and safer to grab money out of the machine, and the good news is that big banks like Wells Fargo and Chase have also committed to bringing NFC on board by the end of the year.

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