Thai ATMs: Withdraw Money Using QR Codes
Surprising for many, Thailand remains one of the leading adopters of the new QR solutions for online banking. They are used widely for interpersonal money transfers, but it’s also been introduced by many banks and payment methods as a means to withdraw money from an ATM without a card.
It’s a beneficial system for many reasons, most notably the comfort that the new solutions bring. It’s essentially a combination of two pieces: an encrypted generator of QR codes and a scanner that many ATMs now have in the big cities of Thailand. Simply scanning a code at one of these machines will give you money immediately.
How It Works
Several Thai banks have already adopted the technology and incorporated it into their mobile applications. What you have to do is place an order to withdraw the money with one of the ATMs, specify the amount necessary, and create a QR code that corresponds to this order.
After that, you need to go to said ATM, put the QR code close to the scanner, and receive the money. No PIN codes, cards, or other actions are necessary – it’s an almost immediate action that takes very little time besides having to set up the order on your mobile app. That’s usually fast.
The mechanism is considered widely beneficial and a big convenience to a lot of people, hence why it gained so much popularity in Thailand. Naturally, there are several flaws, but the advantages far outweigh the possible disadvantages that may arise from using this method. Here are some of them:
- Speed. Compared to the usual method of using a bank card with an ATM to get your money, you can do it with a QR code very fast. It really just takes a few moments, although some banks demand you to take several additional steps, like validating the withdrawal with a special code or a phone number.
- Security. The big problem of the normal ATM experience for many people is the necessity to input a lot of personal data, as well as use a card. This has several security flaws in it, and QR codes do away with them.
- Comfort. Being a cardless way of withdrawing money, this method gets rid of many intermediary steps between you and your money. You can set up a necessary order on your phone at any moment and just use the app functionality to get the cash.
A QR code of this variety is a one-time thing. You set it up specifically for one withdrawal action. It can be deactivated or changed if necessary. Compare it to going to an ATM with your card and specifying all the info on the spot instead of in your phone, and you’ll see just how beneficial this experience really is.
This method has several potential flaws, although they aren’t as prominent. In general, it’s a step up from the previous way of doing banking. All you need to do is use a mobile app from a bank that supports this mechanism. That’s likely the main shortcoming of this method. Here is the entire list:
- Accessibility. Right now, it’s only a growing trend that continues to expand in places like Thailand. It’s been first introduced a few years back, and not all big banks have yet adopted the system.
- Theft risk. The problem with this mechanism is that you entrust a lot into a single piece of code. If someone steals it, they can easily get your money without any identity proof. Only a specified amount can be stolen at a time, but spreading the security risk among the card, PIN, and app seems more trustworthy.
The security risk is offset by the amount of encryption and security measures that go into online banking. It’s protected as much as the entire system around it and the code is a one-time thing anyway. If thieves get their hands on a code, they can steal your money, although, you can just as well deactivate it before it’s too late.
Availability in Thailand
Thailand showed a surprising zeal towards this part of online banking. In recent years, this QR code technology saw massive growth in the US, Brazil, India, parts of Europe, and here. It’s a big improvement that requires very widespread use of mobile banking and some investment into new hardware.
Most major banks in Thailand, most importantly the Bangkok Bank, introduced the technology in recent years. Bangkok Bank, in particular, added the QR scanning feature to a large number of their ATMs, making the widespread use of this solution a reality in just a few years.
The mechanism is most widespread among the banks, most of which support this functionality already with a cardless cash withdrawal on their ATMs. Several Thai payment services support QR transfers, but they mostly do personal transactions between users.
The difference is that you don’t withdraw the money in cash, but instead send a QR code to another user. Scanning the code will allow them to receive the money in their account from the person who sent them the code. It’s very convenient, but it hasn’t yet received any use with ATMs.
The absolute majority of the QR code transfers in the country are obviously in THB. That being said, crypto is also big in Thailand, so there are plenty of services that allow personal transactions in crypto using QR technology. Using it to withdraw funds from crypto ATMs is also getting more and more widespread.
Services PromptPay and Thai QR support such payments. They’ve appeared in recent years specifically because of the growing trend of online transactions in the country and the world in general. They support the QR technology extensively, although they don’t yet support cardless withdrawals, at least not on the same level.
It seems logical that they may include this feature later on, and it’s probably a good bet that they’ll introduce it later on. Similar services abroad, like in US and Brazil, have this functionality already. Nothing stops companies from introducing this feature, so it’s probably going to happen soon.
In short, the technology is incredibly beneficial, and there isn’t any reason not to use it if you work with a bank that supports this feature and if you have the necessary ATM nearby.