Cash degradation: no cash no crime

All over the world, the number of explosive attacks on ATMs is increasing. The need for a solution is urgent. We are convinced that the gas attack Modus Operandi can only be eradicated if we remove the criminal’s motivation to rob an ATM; the availability of cash money inside an ATM. Where there’s no cash, there will be no crime. Here’s how we approach this:

Especially explosive attacks with solid explosives and gas have increased significantly. And it’s just this type of attack that has the public worried. So much violent force is used, that not only the ATM is blown up, but also the building that holds the ATM is severely damaged. Residents and neighbours of this building are at risk; specifically when inexperienced attackers strike. They often use far too much explosives, resulting in enormous explosions.

What is the best solution?

Increasingly heavier vaults, roller shutters, gas neutralization systems and even posting a human guard at the ATM; these measures only force the criminal to innovate and use more violent methods. If you want to repress these attacks permanently, we need to discourage and demotivate the criminal. The ultimate demotivation in this context, is removing the expectation of a reward by degrading the cash inside the ATM cassettes. If this degradation is visible, tangible ánd irreversible, the money will be worthless. Only worthless pieces of paper will remain. As soon as criminals know the ATM’s cassettes are equipped with a form of irreversible cash degradation, they will be convinced that attacking an ATM will be futile. They’ll have no choice but to find another way to make money and this scenario will cease to exist. Just like in The Netherlands, attacks on CIT crews have practically ceased to exist, since the introduction of cashboxes with cash degradation modules in the early eighties.


Cash degradation – how it’s done

At the moment, two forms of cash degradation are available for ATM cassettes. The most well-known and traditional is cash degradation with ink. A more recent development is cash degradation with glue.

This cash degradation system sprays coloured ink over the banknotes in the cash cassettes. The ink (usually green, blue, red, pink or black) is dispersed from the outside in, covering a part of every banknote. Manufacturers claim the ink is permanent and can’t be removed. Some ink degradation systems have an added DNA marker in their ink, allowing police to link degraded banknotes to a certain robbery. Rightful owners of the degraded banknotes can (in most countries and under certain conditions) be reimbursed by the national bank.

A cash degradation system that uses glue sprays a liquid and fast hardening glue over the banknotes inside an ATM cassette. This fuses the banknotes together in record time, creating a solid ‘brick’ of banknotes. It’s impossible to successfully remove a single banknote from this brick. The glue cannot be dissolved or removed in any other way. The glue irreversible changes the physical properties (weight and size) of the banknotes. Banknotes that are degraded by glue systems can never be spent or exchanged. No one will accept a solid brick of banknotes or mere shreds of paper as legal currency, nor will they be accepted by payment terminals. The cash is left completely worthless. Rightful owners of the degraded banknotes can (in most countries and under certain conditions) be reimbursed by the national bank.

Choosing a cash degradation solution

If you want to deploy cash degradation inside your ATMs, choosing a method is the first step. Subsequently, you will have to choose between systems from different suppliers – which is not easy. These solutions will have some major differences. When choosing your perfect solution, you should at least consider these 7 critical success factors:

  1. Degradation of the banknotes (visible, tangible and irreversible)
  2. Health & Safety
  3. Activation mechanism (passive or active)
  4. Consequences of an activation for the ATM
  5. Certification and legislation
  6. Price
  7. Position of the degradation module in the cash cassette


Mactwin wrote a whitepaper, extensively covering these 7 considerations. ATM owners and service parties can request this whitepaper, free of charge, on our website.