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Wells Fargo Wallet set to take on Android Pay with NFC, contactless ATM withdrawals

Banking apps may be a dime a dozen, but it’s not every day that one is positioned to take on mobile wallet giants like Android Pay and Apple Pay. Enter Wells Fargo Wallet: On Wednesday, investment firm Wells Fargo announced a relaunch of the financial institution’s eponymous Android portal that will add support for contactless payments, ATM transactions, and more.

Wells Fargo Wallet’s headlining feature is NFC. In an upgrade due out “later this summer,” customers will gain the ability to make payments at NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminals with any Wells Fargo debit and/or credit cards they’ve digitally saved. They’ll also be able to withdraw cash from a select number of wireless Wells Fargo ATMs — 40 percent by the end of 2016, to be specific.

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“Today, we’re pleased to announce Wells Fargo Wallet for Android users, giving customers the unique ability to make secure NFC payments directly from the Wells Fargo mobile app,” said Jim Smith, Wells Fargo’s virtual channels chief, in a statement. “We know mobile is key to the future of payments, and we expect Wells Fargo Wallet to provide us a richer understanding of the quickly evolving landscape.”

Why use Wells Fargo Wallet instead of, say, Android Pay? Convenience and added protection, the banking giant said. As is the case with Android Pay, transactions completed via the app are monitored by the same risk and fraud prevention mechanism as those involving physical debit and credit cards, and they’re protected by Wells Fargo’s Zero Liability benefit. Basically, you won’t get dinged for unauthorized purchases that that you report in a timely manner. And the app can save time: Built-in NFC support means less fishing around for your phone’s payment settings, in some cases, and quick access to your Wells Fargo account balance and recent transactions.

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“We’re looking to reimagine customer interactions with money in and across channels, and designing our own Wells Fargo Wallet allows us to further engage our customers, and innovate for the future,” said Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo’s innovation group Steve Ellis, in a press release. “With mobile ubiquitous in today’s world, innovation around mobile will continue to be a key area of focus.”

The new Wells Fargo Wallet isn’t a wholly altruistic effort, of course. The bank’s looking to collect a piece of the purchasing data pie that digital payments represent — 28 percent of smartphone owners reported making a purchase with their phone in the past 12 months, according to a Federal Reserve report. Thankfully, though, the revamped app won’t preclude alternatives. Want to ignore the update’s new features and continue using Android Pay? Not a problem — you don’t need to lift a finger. If, on the other hand, you want to join the more than 17 million customers who use Wells Fargo’s app regularly, just add your debit and/or credit card and you’ll be good to go.