Brazil ATMs: Use QR Codes to Receive Money
There is a growing trend in worldwide payment and banking services to use QR codes for money transactions. It can be done online by scanning user-generated QR codes for one-time P2P payments, but you can also show a pattern such as this to an ATM to withdraw some money.
This last action is a much newer technology and continues to gain traction in various countries in the world, including Brazil. Brazil is one of the forerunners of this new trend. Their Central Bank has even developed a common standard for these QR codes to be used for payment purposes, among other efforts.
How It Works
In Brazil, it’s now possible to withdraw funds from an ATM using several payment solutions and a QR code generated with their help. Users essentially encode a withdrawal order into a special pattern that an ATM can recognize. It creates a fast, contactless way of withdrawing money.
All you have to do is put the code (shown on your smartphone screen) close to the scanner and receive the amount of money you specified beforehand. This removes the need to enter your card, the PIN code, or other details. This mechanism has plenty of benefits, but also some flaws.
Speed of interaction is likely the main benefit of this method. You don’t have to input the card or the PIN; you only have to put the smartphone close enough to the code scanner to start the procedure. After that, the ATM will give you the exact amount of money specified in the code.
It’s probably the most prominent of the advantages, at least for an average user. The inconvenience of having to use your card every time is tedious for a lot of people. Some banks demand certain info to validate the withdrawal even with a cardless procedure, but it’s a lot less tedious overall.
Security is another big upside that comes to mind. It might seem like leaving the fate of your money to a single QR code speaks a security flaw, and that might be. However, this approach deals with one big flaw that the regular ATM experience had for ages – a quick-sighted enough bystander can clearly see what you’re doing.
A QR code, by comparison, is a one-time thing. When you activate it and receive your money, it becomes completely useless. In the meantime, while receiving cash this way, there’s absolutely no info exchange between you and the machine. It makes any potential leaks impossible.
Convenience is also a big advantage. QR codes have long been used as quick, reliable methods of data exchange. That also includes money: a person can send their friend this encrypted message. Scanning this message will send a certain amount of money from one to the other.
It works in exactly the same way with ATMs, except there’s also the machine itself in this exchange. Instead of online transactions and other people, you deal with cash and ATMs. You can set up a code to be used for your own convenience or let someone else get cash by withdrawing it from your account via an ATM.
There are two main disadvantages to this system.
The primary disadvantage is that it’s theoretically very easy to steal a QR code. There are no counter-measures against using someone else’s code at an ATM. You don’t have to verify your identity. It’s really just a matter of showing the pattern to a scanner and receiving the money almost immediately.
However, there are plenty of security measures around the QR codes themselves, encrypted within the services that generate them. Hacking into service and stealing the code is as unfeasible as hacking into a system itself. Moreover, if you know that a QR code is stolen, you can simply deactivate it.
The relative scarcity of such ATMs compared to their regular counterparts is also a slight disadvantage. You can only use this feature if there are ATMs in your area that support it. In Brazil, the number of such machines grows by the month, and the country is, in general, one of the hotspots of this trend.
Availability in Brazil
As mentioned, Brazil remains one of the biggest supporters of this new trend. The number of ATMs that have this functionality in them grows constantly. There are currently thousands of them in this country. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear number, nor is there a reliable service to track such machines in Brazil.
However, it was recognized by the Brazilian Central Bank as a worthwhile mechanism. In 2020, they’ve published a standard that all providers of QR encryption in banking should adhere to. It’s supposed to promote integration between the services and drive the development of this technology further with government support.
Many leading banks in the country, in particular the Itau Unibanco, developed their own technologies for QR coding, incorporating them into their e-banking apps. They’ve essentially made it possible to withdraw money from their cards in cash using these scanners.
The currency used for the absolute majority of QR-coded transactions is BLR, obviously. Brazil has also been a leading adopter of cryptocurrency solutions in the past years. Nowadays, it’s possible to exchange crypto funds between users simply by scanning a QR code. It’s bound to have other uses soon with the growing number of crypto ATMs in the world.
Lastly, it’s worth talking about PIX, a recently developed payment solution by the Brazilian Central Bank. It’s designed with the QR technology in mind, letting users exchange funds and make payments using just these encrypted patterns. It’s been proven widely popular.
The thing about PIX is that it’s available in many ATMs. Most such ATMs have a QR scanning capability specifically to let people withdraw money from their PIX accounts without any special cards or without inputting their private information. So, if you know that a certain ATM supports PIX, then it likely also has a QR scanner.
This solution in particular has been instrumental in the adoption of QR banking technology in Brazil. It’s estimated that the mechanism will continue to grow among conventional banking solutions, as well.