SAN FRANCISCO -- Wells Fargo on Monday said it has launched a new service to let customer receive text messages to serve as receipts for banking transactions, making it the first bank to offer that option for alerts.

The text alerts are being made available at 12,000 ATMs around the country, the bank said. The service was launched earlier this month and includes the Bay Area.

"Today almost half of all receipt eligible transactions at the ATM result in customers selecting an e-receipt or not printing a receipt," said Alicia Moore, who heads up ATM Banking for Wells Fargo.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo in June 2010 became the first bank to offer electronic receipts at its ATM locations nationwide. Under these options, customers are able to receive their ATM receipt through a regular email address or at a private mail option within their online accounts at Wells Fargo.

"Banking has gone through several technological waves," said Ken Thomas, a Miami-based independent bank analyst and operator of BranchLocation.com. "The first was in the 1970s, with the first ATM. Over the years, people have talked about a society without bank branches. Then we had debit cards, online banking, and banking on smart phones. So this is the latest."


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By circumventing a paper receipt, the new text alert option is a way for Wells Fargo to tout its environmental credentials.

"We're offering more options for to our customers to reduce waste and preserve resources where we can," said Mary Wenzel, Wells Fargo's head of environmental affairs.

Yet this also enables the bank to slash expenses.

"Every time you remove a piece of paper and replace it with a text message, that saves money," Thomas said. "It may be a savings of a penny or two with each receipt, but that adds up over millions of transactions."

Options such as text alerts or other services conducted by smart phones or other mobile devices -- such as depositing a check by transmitting its image via a smart phone -- are ways of banks to demonstrate they are in touch with the needs of our increasingly mobile society.

"You have the image of the stodgy banker, and these kinds of services are a way for banks to show they are more high-tech," Thomas said.

Contact George Avalos at 408-373-3556 or 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.