Is NatWest's 'get cash' app in crisis?

Natwest branchDave Thompson/PA

The BBC has claimed that NatWest has suspended its Get Cash app - which allows customers to get hold of cash from ATMs if their debit card is forgotten, lost or stolen.

A report on Radio 4's Money Box programme revealed that one customer reported being defrauded by criminals taking advantage of the scheme - and there were claims that the bank was withdrawing the service as a result. NatWest says this is not true. So what's going on?
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The fraud

Get Cash is one of two new services, designed as a helpful solution for those who find themselves stranded out and about without cash or their card. You just use an app to request up to £100 from your account, and you will be sent a security code. Tap that into the cash machine, and you get access to up to your money. It has been launched alongside a service called Emergency Cash, which is similar, but is run over the phone.

The radio programme spoke to a customer who said that someone had used the Get Cash app to take £950 from his account in 11 separate ATM withdrawals. He said NatWest had told him that he had been defrauded by someone using the app - which he wasn't signed up to himself.

Phishing

A NatWest spokeswoman told AOL: "According to our records and conversations with the customer, the account had been compromised by phishing. He had responded to a phishing email, and given out his account details."

As a result of these enquiries, NatWest decided not to refund the cash - as they said the customer was culpable. NatWest told AOL: "In initial investigations there was evidence to suggest the customer had responded to a phishing email and, as a result, their account had been compromised. It is our policy in these cases not to issue a refund".

The customer denied having done so, and after re-examining the case on the request of Moneybox, NatWest said: "On receipt of fresh evidence from the customer, we will refund as a gesture of goodwill."

Is it safe?

It raises the question of whether the app is safe. The spokeswoman reiterated: "We are fully committed to the prevention of fraud and have stringent security procedures in place in this regard." She added: "It's not a stand-alone app. You have to be registered for online banking and mobile banking and there are a number of checks carried out throughout this process to verify who is using the system."

These include the fact that you cannot apply for mobile banking without card and personal details and the online banking number. Once you have signed up, a letter is sent to your home address informing you that you have signed up.

The spokeswoman said phishing emails can get around even the most stringent security measures, but added: "We regularly remind customers that we will never ask them for their entire PIN or password in an email. We provide detailed information on our websites on keeping your computer, money and identity safe".

Is it withdrawn?

And what of the claim that the service is being withdrawn? NatWest says this isn't true. The spokeswoman said: "The Get Cash feature of the RBS and NatWest mobile app is temporarily unavailable to customers as a result of a planned update". She added that it would be back up and running shortly.

Which, even NatWest would have to admit, is unfortunate timing of a planned update. It's a horrible co-incidence that questions should be raised about the system, just at the point it is taken down for an update.
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