Francis Menassa, JAR Capital: Why Using Telematics Can Combat Latest Wave Of Cash Machine Crime
By Francis Menassa
Founder of JAR Capital, an independent wealth and asset management firm based in St. James’s, London
Whether it is cash in transit or maintaining the security of ATMs, crime is a real challenge for the cash logistics industry. But advancements in telematics — using location information to track and secure assets — are playing a vital role in keeping the criminals at bay.
The delivery and collection of cash, as well as other high-value assets, has long been seen by criminals as an easy target. Cash machines have also been targeted with cybercrimes such as cashout fraud and skimming. Cashout fraud is where thieves hack a bank or payment card processor to make cloned cards that they can use to withdraw money from ATMs around the world; while skimming is when a thief attaches an external device to an ATM to capture a card’s electronic data.
ATM attacks on the rise
In the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of violent attacks on cash machines. Thieves have been ram-raiding or using blasting machines to get at ATMs, which often hold up to as much as £120,000 particularly in rural areas. In Northern Ireland, there have been ten such raids in 2019 alone.
A report published in December 2018 by Cardtronics, an ATM operator, found that in the last four years, the number of attacks has increased by an average of 22% per year and of those almost half were violent attacks. There were 400 attacks in 2014 but that had risen to 723 in 2017 according to the report.
The good news is that many of these attacks have been unsuccessful. But the effect on communities is devastating — damaging the buildings, small businesses and reducing access to cash in rural areas.
Furthermore, with over half of all UK ATMs installed off-site, away from bank branches, it is inevitable that there will be more such attacks.
Police forces across the UK and the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) are working together to protect cash collections and deliveries from robbery. Security measures in place include CCTV monitoring, patrol cars following cash-handling vehicles and secure cash containers which contain dye that explodes when tampered with. There is also smart water, a spray that marks thieves for up to 5 years.
Using telematics to safeguard cash
Now, however, these well-established measures are being underpinned by advanced telematics applications for cash logistics, whether cash-in-transit or stored in an ATM. The combination of software solutions and state-of-the-art hardware can offer far superior levels of security and control for tracking cash and potentially, for protection against ATM theft.
Telematics essentially integrates telecommunications and informatics for application within vehicles as well as for controlling vehicles on the move. It is already a standard solution for fleet management — providing real-time vehicle tracking and route reporting — improving driver safety, vehicle efficiency and customer service. It is used in satellites, for tracking school buses, and is now the norm for many car insurance policies.
One of the key advantages of the latest system developments is they can be integrated with other software, mobile and data applications.
In fleet management, for example, telematics monitors fuel efficiency, tire pressure, location and tachograph data from both vehicle and the driver’s phone while simultaneously connecting the data with weather or traffic conditions.
Advanced telematics, extra security
With enhanced data tracking and analysis, using mobile routers, there is no need to have separate network connections for devices. Effectively, it is possible to have full control through a secure central communications hub. This is a significant improvement when protecting the security of any high-value asset such as cash-in-transit vehicles and even fuel tankers because telematic solutions have the control to immobilize vehicles remotely at any time.
For instance, incorporating anti-theft and anti-jamming devices allows operators to pinpoint and secure weak points such as when a driver is most at risk. When collecting and delivering cash, drivers need only to be given security codes when arriving on-site.
Similarly, with ATMs that are often installed independently, on garage forecourts or on shopfronts, fully remote-controlled telematics security solutions can switch off the ATM and block the power, shutting down access, in the event of an attack.
The fight against cash crime is an ongoing battle. Nevertheless, these sophisticated modern technologies that provide a unique combination of telecommunications devices, wireless connectivity, electrical engineering and IT, are becoming a vital tool to shore up the security of the global cash industry.