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Atlanta, Georgia, 30328

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Ink technology underestimated in ATM and CiT

Mark Ellis


Jens Eberhardt, Managing Partner and founder of Cash Infrastructure Projects and Services GmbH.

State of cash technology is proceeding 

Risk Management for cash supply chains shall assure secure and efficient processes. Ink-dye technology is a smart alternative to protect cash inventories and transport of cash instead of armoring and weapons. The implementation of ink technology systems will be a step forward to optimize cost of cash handling in more and more countries. The additional investment in ATM technology is justifyable as banks/IAD`s will redically reduce the risk of physical and gas attacks against ATMs. Improved cash logistics based on soft-skin vehicles with ink protection will increase profitability of CIT companies as well. The results are outlined in the latest feasibility studies.

Ink technology as future standard

Ink staining of banknotes is an accepted standard to protect cash inventories against criminal acts in many European countries. IBNS (Intelligent Banknote Neutralization System) technology activates ink staining of banknotes, if an unauthorized access to cash is detected. If banknotes inside ATM vaults or transport cassettes are protected with ink-dye, criminals will think twice before taking the risk. Sweden and Belgium introduced ink-dye protection beginning of this century with striking success. The unedifying growth in physical and explosive attacks towards ATMs and armored trucks was significantly reduced. Similar experiences were reported from France and Chile after the introduction of the IBNS technology.

So why are banks and CiTs so reluctant to implement ink technology?

Ink technology for ATM inventories

In Germany, ATM gas attacks are on a raise from 38 in 2011 to 89 in 2013, peaking at 132 attacks in 2015! But instead of investing in new ink technology the banks rather close ATM locations over night and accept to ruffle feathers of their customers. The investment cost into ink technology is apperently the prime reason of banks to lose sight of the risk and possible cost implications of a potential attack. Recent studies outline a monetary damage of $63’000 (international average) caused by an attack with explosives considering the collateral, but not the image damage for the bank. In Germany as of the higher cash inventories the monetary damage is reaching an average between 70’000€ and 90’000€.

A feasibility study of Cash InfraPro for Mexico comes to the result, that banks can improve their security in ATM locations by introducing IBNS technique. Even an investment in IBNS technology by only 25% of the locations - focussed on high risk areas - will result in a drop of attacks by 75% within next 18 months. Similar experiences are reported from Sweden and Chile. Translating these facts for a bank with an installed base of approx. 6’000 units, ATM attacks can be reduced from todays 400 to 50 per year resulting into a saving potential of $25MM for next two years. In consequence an investment in IBNS technology will amortize in 6 months considering initial investments, on-site installation cost as well as the maintenance of ink equipment during its lifespan, training of staff and adequate project management for planning and implementation. Overall a lucrative investment.

Ink technology for cash logistics

CiT companies are constantly challenged by customers to take over full liability for transport and cash processing for a competitive price. On the other hand risk management means to implement best practices to avoid external attacks and eliminating internal losses. The success of ink technology in “high risk” countries initiated a debate about the pros and cons of the IBNS technique vs. armored trucks plus weapons for the personnel. The main argument is that the investment for organizational reengineering overburdens the financial strengths of CiTs, which have no longtime commitment from their customer base. In addition the CiTs are struggling with the quality of installed ink systems, which shows a high failure rate in the past. This results in a trust-less commitment of CiT organizations for IBNS technology, even if a business case is feasible.

But CiTs neglect the competitive advantage of the latest IBNS generation. Swiss based company VILLIGER is leading todays quality benchmarks for IBNS technology. With continuous development of modular IBNS equipment with outstanding reliability and robustness in day to day operation, VILLIGER is able to bring failure rates in operation constantly below 1% p.a. Compared to the reported rates of more than 9% in Belgium a tremendous improvement with positive impact to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return of Investment (ROI) for VILLIGER customers, beside a lifetime warranty on the ink staining equipment. The transformation from “armored transport” to “soft-skin vehicles with IBNS” can get concluded and is feasible for developed as well as for emerging markets.

Improved business case for CiT logistics with ink technology
(for Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand)

The operational cost comparison outlines an extensive advantage for soft-skin vehicles vs. armored trucks in countries with higher wages. Depending on stop density per route the cost benefit allocates between 20% and 35% for Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Starting with similar investments in vehicles the benefits for IBNS protected soft-skin vehicles show effect in reduced personnel as the IBNS takes over the role of one crew member - protecting the truck during stops. In consequence routes with low stop density, e.g. express services or retail collection routes with long stop times at shopping malls will reflect highest cost benefits. Explicitly about 30% of the armored truck fleet could be replaced by soft-skin vehicle with IBNS. At least an improved risk mitigation through ink technologies lowers the insurance fees.

These results are irreversible around the world, there the traffic increases and traffic jams avoid high stop densities. Further light transport vehicles using IBNS contribute to “green technology initiatives” of respective CiT companies.  

Conclusion for smart IBNS implementation

Banks and CiTs recognize step by step the advantages of IBNS technology. First movers will have a competitive advantage due to beneficial cost structures. For risk mitigation ATMs should be by default equipped with IBNS technology. Ink technology is the only proven security element that protects cash inventories inside ATMs (stationary mode), and which can be enhanced for end-to-end transportation of cash. Successful market players set a high expectation on well-designed concepts and smart implementation with experienced project management. The reengineering of the processes with the qualified technology partner will be a success factor. The requirements for IBNS technology should assume i.e.:

  • best reliability ratios with proven failure rates in operation
  • multi-vendor technology for different ATM types and operation modes
  • IT integration with other security features, e.g. for ATMs with electronic vault locks, gas sensors, data management for cassette tracking and tracing
  • safe staining quality of banknotes according to Central Bank regulations 

Do you want to know more about IBNS technology and smart implementation, please contact us.


ATMIA survey; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Cash InfraPro feasibility studies