Day 30/ 365 – Security (or lack of) at ATMs

Yesterday we had a horrific attack on a woman who was using an ATM in Bangalore. The woman who happens to be working in a bank was attacked by a man with machete at 7 am in the morning. While the woman is being treated and recovering from the attack, the man who attacked her is still at large. This incident has raised heckles as far as banks providing security for ATM’s is concerned. When I has just returned from the US, I was surprised to see ATMs located in AC booths and security guards posted outside. My experience in the US was entirely different, where the ATM’s where just machines in the wall and there was no one guarding it. I always used to wonder why waste so much space, especially in a city like Mumbai where space is a limited and you have to pay through exorbitant amounts to rent or buy. The security guard who is normally stationed outside, does not have a gun. I think they have a baton with them (though, not sure how it helps when someone has a machete or a gun). Most of the time, they just keep whiling away their time sitting on a chair instead of being alert and looking out for people with suspicious behavior. I believe the above incident could have been avoided if the ATM’s are brick in the transparent booths instead of shops with shutters, so that alarm can be raised in case of such incidents. We will now probably have some regulation that the RBI will pass and make it mandatory for banks to have security guards 24×7 which in turn would increase the operating margin for the banks, reduce their profitability and ultimately be passed on to the consumer in form of limited withdrawals a month for free or some charge every time you use an ATM. On the lighter note, this would be the increase in the number of people employed through security agencies. This would also spawn new security agencies who only deal with ATM security. So thanks to the attacker, we will probably see a decrease in unemployment numbers in the upcoming quarters.

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