Banks insure kiosks as well as cash in ATMs and count on CCTV cameras to deter criminals

Members of the banking industry claim that posting guards round the clock at every ATM kiosk is not cost effective. Also, deploying armed guards is not an easy task.

According to a senior official in a public sector bank, if security is to be provided to a kiosk round the clock, a bank would have to deploy three security guards on eight-hour shifts. Each guard would have to be paid Rs. 300 per day in keeping with the prevailing labour laws. “The cost of a security guard alone would be close to about Rs. 10,000 a month. This would make such kiosks financially unviable,” the official said.

The official added that deploying armed guards comes with its own set of problems. For one, it is very difficult to procure gun licences. Most banks manage onsite kiosks (located at branches), but outsource offsite kiosks. Banking industry insiders confided that some ATMs are left unguarded as banks depend on CCTV cameras as well as cameras in ATMs to deter criminals. They protect their assets by insuring kiosks as well as the cash inside ATMs.

“Barring occasions when entire machines have been stolen, most attempts to steal from ATMs have failed since the machines are very difficult to crack,” the official said.

20,000 ATMs in State

However, attempts to steal from ATMs and related crimes have been on the rise in the last two years. In their bid to cater to the needs of their customers by increasing the number of ATM kiosks, banks have not made foolproof arrangement to protect them from crimes like Tuesday’s attack on Jyothi Uday.

An official in a private bank explained the rise in such incidents to the increase in the number of kiosks in the last two years.

There are an estimated 20,000 ATM kiosks of various public and private sector banks in Karnataka with Bangalore accounting for about one-fourth of the total.

About 90 per cent of these kiosks came up in the last decade.

The public sector bank official told The Hindu, “Most banks have been on overdrive in recent years to establish ATM kiosks to cater to customers on the move. It is difficult to have 24/7 security at each kiosk.”

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