Security & Fraud

EU ATM Thefts Raise Europol Red Flags

ATM thief

Europol, the European Union police organization, is calling for increased security and vigilance in response to a string of attacks on ATMs throughout the continent, according to a report by the Associated Press.

On Monday (June 17), the organization said attacks on the machines went up 27 percent from a year prior, with total damages coming in at 36 million euros ($40 million). The attacks include 21 countries.

Europol, based in Hague, is asking operators of ATMs to put less cash in the machines and make the cash traceable if it is stolen. Europol is also asking for better security on the machines, and for authorities to share information about thefts to make it easier to capture criminals.

The changes, Europol said, “should be adopted at the European level,” to make sure that more than one country is protected.

In other ATM-related news, the number of machines installed during 2018 declined by 1 percent on a worldwide basis, research firm RBR found.

In a press release, RBR said the number of ATMs stood at 3.24 million at the end of 2018 and that the decline was due to branch closures and growing popularity of mobile payments. In RBR’s new Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2024 report, it found the number of ATMs declined in four of the five largest markets last year. More than half of the ATMs are in China, the U.S., Japan and Brazil, which all saw a decline in machines installed. In India, RBR said growth “slowed considerably.”

According to the report, while the outcome was the same in each of the countries — a decline in ATMs — the reasons were varied. In China, for example, RBR said growing adoption of non-cash payment methods has resulted in a rapid decline in new ATMs being installed. In the U.S., branch closures are to blame for the decline, as well as retailers deciding to withdraw ATM machines rather than upgrade to EMV standards.

In Japan, the ATM market declined for the first time since 2009, and was hurt by banks’ efforts to improve efficiencies by sharing ATMs. Brazil saw that trend in years past, but the decline of about 1,200 terminals in 2018 was attributed to banks removing the machines as consumers increasingly favor digital payments.

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