Financial entities to store less cash at ABMs

February 17, 2023

Financial institutions are set to make changes to their operational structures in an attempt to stem the recent escalation in ABM vandalism and theft.

Nearly a dozen ABM machines have reportedly been hit over the past year, accounting for millions of dollars in losses. In response, the Jamaica Bankers' Association (JBA) president, Septimus Blake, in a media release on Thursday, said that changes will include, but are not limited to a reduction of cash levels available at ABMs and the removal of the machines altogether from high-risk locations.

"Criminality has costs beyond the loss of lives. It has a negative impact on economic productivity, overall well-being. It is imperative that efforts continue to reduce all forms of criminality," shared Blake, while adding that all other options under construction will have a negative effect on customers.

"Over the last decade, the number of ABMs across the island has increased because of the great convenience afforded to customers, especially those who in underserved areas. This convenience is provided at a major investments cost to financial institutions. These fixed costs, when combined with the increased losses from vandalism and theft, have caused financial institutions to review all options available to them for the reduction of incidence loss. Further, when an ABM is stolen, a replacement is often not readily available. These machines are ordered in bulk quantities which have significant lead times for delivery," he continued.

Blake also urged customers to use digital platforms available for payments and other monetary transactions as an alternative.

"Individuals can greatly educed their reliance on cash and improve their overall convenience and personal safety. Digital payments not only make financial transactions faster and easier but also protect individuals from potential risks associated with carrying large amount of cash," Blake said.

The release also stated that customers who have been impacted by vandalised or stolen ABMs should contact their financial institutions for details on the closest alternate machine. The JBA head also encouraged persons who may have any information regarding an act of ABM theft or vandalism, to share this information with Crime Stop.

"The penalties for such crimes must be strengthened to create an appropriate deterrent," argued Dane Nicholson, who is the head of the JBA's Anti-Fraud Committee.

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