I have taken the title for this blog from a panel discussion held at the recent European Security Transport Association (ESTA) conference in Bratislava. It is a controversial question which is relevant not just to CIT companies, but also to banks, IADs, merchants, ATM manufacturers and others who handle cash cassettes.
There is a noticeable tension between CIT companies and providers of cash protection systems known as IBNS (Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems). CIT companies argue that they are happy to invest in such technology but they have concerns.
In particular, they say that in most cases where cash has been stolen, it is never recovered, even if the IBNS have been successfully activated. This criticism seems harsh, however, as these systems have a deterrent effect and are not designed to provide any physical protection.
The other main concerns of CIT companies are the failure of IBNS to activate/neutralise (which is usually blamed on crew error, rather than product defects) and total cost of ownership — not just the purchase price, but also peripheral equipment, proactive maintenance, repairs, costs of false activation, and training.
It is generally recognised that there is no single solution for preventing attacks on cash cassettes and a consensus has emerged that IBNS is a critical element in combating such crime. Furthermore, the latest generation of systems has made significant improvements to build quality and reliability, and has reduced incidence of false activation.
While there is pressure on suppliers to reduce the cost of IBNS systems and to introduce new features such as DNA ink markers and tracking of cassettes, other stakeholders can do more too. In particular, there needs to be greater awareness of the origin of stained notes — in most countries, stained notes remain legal tender and many people are not aware of their significance.
There is, in fact, increasing pressure on central banks to change the status of stained notes, rendering them illegal. Such a move is not without consequences, however. For example, most note accepting machines do not detect them and would therefore need to be upgraded or replaced.
Cash security remains a major challenge, and for the foreseeable future this will drive strong demand for IBNS. Systems will continue to improve, but we should not expect the tense relationship between CIT companies and IBNS manufacturers to disappear.