Around the world branch banking is undergoing a transformation. The number of people choosing online banking, mobile banking, or self-service areas over doing their bank errands in a traditional bank branch, is increasing. This gives banks the opportunity to increase their operational efficiency by restructuring their channel strategy and revise the type of services traditional branches offer.
One step in this direction is to make some branch offices completely cashless, handling only consultations and similar activities while customers are directed to different self service areas for withdrawal or deposit of cash. First National Bank (FNB) opened its first cashless branches in Johannesburg in 2012.
The main reason for cashless branches is that handling cash is very expensive and there is a significantly higher cost in branches carrying cash compared to those who choose to go cashless. Cash also poses greater security risk and banks are actively trying to reduce cost and risk by moving the cash to ATMs and self service areas.
However, the need for surveillance in bank branches will not diminish even when there is no cash handling for several reasons:
Money is not only coins and notes, it is ones and zeros as well. Banks handle a large amount of electronic money every day and the requirements for security around this money handling are very high. Banks need to comply with regulations both internal and external – HR, unions etc – and these regulations don’t change easily or particularly fast.
There is an increasing level of threats towards bank personnel, specifically in branches that are not carrying cash and that are mainly focusing on consultations. The limited availability of cash creates frustration as well as perceived bad advice for investments on a stock market in turmoil. There could be any number of reasons for a bank, even a cashless one, to be targeted. Banks need surveillance in order to deter crimes and also to be able to identify the people that are threatening their personnel.
Bank robberies are not the only threat towards bank branches however. Internal fraud is also a possible threat in which video surveillance is an efficient way of detecting, if not deterring. Surveillance is also necessary to curb vandalism, another issue banks will need to continue deal with.
Last but not least, compliance must also be to taken into consideration where changes in legislation actually could be imposing camera usage independently of whether or not the bank branch has cash or not.
When debating whether or not surveillance in modern cashless bank branches is indeed necessary – the answer is yes. In terms of evolving security needs, banks will need to be smarter when choosing their surveillance system. Moving in the direction of IP video surveillance will enhance security and give banks the flexibility they need while maintaining cost efficiency.
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