Even with bad news seemingly everywhere these days, there is one shining takeaway for members of the FI community: Crime is down at the nation's credit unions and banks.
According to FBI statistics gathered by the American Bankers Association, robberies have fallen by approximately 57 percent over the past decade.
Why have heists fallen so precipitously? There are many reasons, many of which tie into general safety, security and policing improvements that have made U.S. businesses safer across the board. But for banks, one feature stands out as an important (if silent) safety driver: automation. To be more precise, the effects of automation have led to markedly improved levels of security for the nation's financial institutions.
Simple, safe and speedy
We here at BranchServ have been quite vocal about how automation boosts efficiency and convenience. With just the touch of a button or an uttered command, the right software/hardware combinations can quickly manage tasks that have historically been handled manually; simplifying processes and supporting your ability to focus on the bigger picture.
But it isn't just simplicity that's led to the expansion of automation. Both accuracy and security have played a role as well. IT is often able to accomplish tasks more effectively than human beings. Furthermore, robotics can pick up the slack when it comes to identifying and patching vulnerabilities. As noted by Network World, "not only are humans incapable of keeping up with the sheer volume of incoming threats, but their ability to make quick and highly-impactful decisions to manually address such an attack is equally inefficient."
In short, businesses are turning to automation because it's more reliable, cost effective and can keep up with the pace of security threats, which come from every which way.
Indeed, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, data breaches seem to be on an uninterrupted climb. In 2017, for example, they rose nearly 45 percent, with roughly 1 in 10 affecting the financial sector, including credit unions and bank branches. This isn't to say that these incursions were successful, but that the attempts at stealing information were made.
Automation and process improvement is providing some much needed assistance in identifying instances in which unauthorized actors enter secured systems at financial institutions. Subsequently, in October, just 6 percent of breaches that occurred in the U.S. affected the banking sector. Meanwhile, 44 percent impacted the business industry and 33 percent health care.
Skepticism, despite improvements
Some within the banking community are taking a cautious approach to automation, fearful that their customers and employees may be uncomfortable with the transition and "robotics creep," wherein AI slowly but surely supplants workers. But as Bank of America Chief Operations and Technology Officer Catherine Bessant stated in June 2018, automation is not replacing banking professionals.
"The whole idea [of automation] is to mechanize those routine things to free up capacity for the thought and human interaction work," Bessant explained at the Bloomberg Invest Summit in New York City. "As long as we are smart and aggressive and thoughtful about workforce transformation, and are ahead of the changes in our workforce, it's our belief that there's not some concept of job decimation that has to happen as a result of robotics."
In a separate poll conducted by IBM, more than three-quarters of respondents said they expect automation to have a positive effect on operational efficiencies and 70 percent said they anticipate AI will result in higher work output among its employees. As a result, according to Accenture, companies may see their revenues rise 38 percent by 2022 through AI investment. In the financial sector specifically, earnings could jump 32 percent.
ATMs now much more secure
The fact that automation works hand in hand with traditional security systems is a much-appreciated bonus. Case in point: ATMs. Automated teller machines have improved in various functionalities over time. In their early years, they primarily provided one service – dispensing money. Today, however, ATMs are an option for a myriad of customer engagements from paying bills to cardless transactions. Indeed, according to a 2018 report from ATM Marketplace, 41 percent of ATMs now have cardless transaction capabilities. Single-use PIN makes it more convenient for customers to take care of various banking tasks and reduces the likelihood of security vulnerabilities caused by stolen cards or skimming. As a result, nearly a third of banking professionals state that they intend to invest in machines featuring contactless transactions within the next few years, according to the ATM and Self-Service Software Trend report.
Improving the customer experience
Another benefit of increased security from automation is the transition to open concept banking. More and more banks and credit unions are moving away from traditional layouts to more progressive and open ones, as it has been shown to improve the customer experience and overall satisfaction. Those that have done so are finding success, with nearly 47 percent of respondents agreeing that customer engagement has improved since implementing the changes associated with open layout, according to a study done by Fintech Futures. The security features inherent with cash recyclers and lobby ATMs makes that change even more palpable. Some banks are even moving away from the vault, utilizing cash recyclers to exclusively secure their daily cash needs.
Will security issues completely cease to exist with automation in the driver's seat? It goes without saying, but no strategy is perfect. However, combining automation with electronic and physical security will support the level of protection for financial institutions. BranchServ has single point of contact solutions for all your security needs.
Contact us today!