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5 ways to win in 2013 with ATM best practices

Even for people who don't make resolutions, the start of a new year represents an opportunity to set fresh goals and come up with a plan for doing things a little better than last year. To accomplish this in a segment of the financial industry as complex, regulated and subject to risk as the ATM sector, means knowing, establishing and maintaining best practices.

"[Best practices] are highly relevant to all individual ATM operators and financial institutions because they are considered essential principles for proper risk management and protection of the assets and reputation of the ATM industry," said ATM Industry Association executive director Mike Lee.

1) Explore ATM best practices resources

ATM operators can find best practice guides from any number of individual providers covering all sorts of narrowly defined topics — Best Practice Guidelines for CIT Companies Carrying Out ATM Services, Best Practice for Physical ATM Security, and Guide to Best Practice in ATM Testing, to name only a few.

What makes the ATMIA different from other sources for best practices is the number and breadth of topics in its growing library of guides. The range touches on more than a score of topics relating to ATM operation, management and security. And the organization works to make sure that each guide reflects the most current information on the subject.

2) Seek thoroughness and ATM expertise

As far as we know, there is no best practice for developing best practices. For this reason, it's a good idea to verify the credentials of best practices authors and publishers before implementing their recommended guidelines.

"Most [ATMIA] best practices are written by security experts and signed off by international security committees within ATMIA," said the association's U.S executive director David Tente. "We work on consensus. We arrive at a set of voluntary industry recommendations through getting feedback on the research-based findings of security experts."

3) Keep abreast of current ATM best practices

If there's an issue in the ATM industry, you can bet there's a best practice manual for it — or one coming soon.

Lee and Tente offered summaries of three comprehensive best practices guides released by the ATA in recent months:

ATM Contactless Payment Acceptance: "looks at threats to contactless payment methods, including potential attack and scam scenarios through remote capture of card data or monitoring of electromagnetic emissions near an ATM during a transaction."

End-to-End Encryption for ATMs: "helps to keep data private when it is communicated between an ATM and a host — at the point where EMV does not guarantee privacy of the data."

Managing Anti Money-Laundering at ATMs: "explains how best to detect, deter, and record any money laundering activity in the ATM channel."

The organization has additional manuals coming soon on other emerging concerns, including an EMV guide for the U.S. and best practices for ATM integrated payments security.

4) Don't back-burner ATM best practices

It is not true that a watched pot never boils, however it is true that a watched pot rarely boils over. Which is to say that for best practices to work, you have to keep a constant watch over their execution.

Because of their voluntary nature, it can be easy to let best practices become a "set it and forget it" proposition. There's no oversight, no watchdogging, no fine for falling down on the job. But there could be expensive consequences for letting best practices lapse. So an operator is well advised to set up best practices within the business process for monitoring best practices at the ATM.

5) Benchmark progress on ATM best practices goals

"While there is nothing particularly glamorous about benchmarking, it remains a highly effective system for improving the competitive edge of any company," Lee wrote in a July 2012 commentary.

Lee went on to say that benchmarking is a valuable tool for ATM operators who want to improve improve competitive efficiency through increased productivity, as well as for those who want to turn around underperforming aspects of their business.

Best practices guides are the mile markers that tell an FI or IAD whether programs and procedures are moving fleet performance forward, or impeding its efficiency.

The sooner an organization institutes the benchmark of best practices, the faster it will move toward its performance ideals. As Lee wrote, "Tomorrow starts today. In fact, in this fast-paced world, tomorrow starts now." 

For more on this topic, visit the security research center.

photo: Julie Rybarczyk

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