"The bar ATM could be on the way out —and chip cards may be to blame" by Olga Kharif and Brooke Fox Bloomberg News July 05, 2016
That ATM in the dark corner of the bar could be on its way out.
By October, ATM owners in the United States must replace or upgrade their machines to accept chip cards, or face liability for certain types of fraud. But the upgrades and related ongoing maintenance are expensive enough that cash-machine operators like Abe Ayesh, who helps manage about 8,000 ATMs, mostly on the East Coast, plans to shut down some of them.
“Do I want to go spend $3,000 right now for a new machine that’s going to take me three to four years to get my money?’’ said Ayesh, chief operating officer of FAM ATM. ‘‘It’s not worth it.’’
Upgrading his existing fleet would cost $4 million — his company’s entire annual earnings, before charges like depreciation and taxes, he said.
James Phillips, a vice president at Triton Systems of Delaware, which makes retail ATMs, said other old machines may stay operational but not be upgraded — and eventually simply stop working.
‘‘There are many ATMs out there that simply cannot be upgraded,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘They end up in landfills. It could have an impact for some cardholders in rural areas where there’s only one to two ATMs that they have access to.’’
On Oct. 1, ATM owner that don’t move to accept the chip technology — called EMV, in industry parlance — will be liable for any counterfeit fraud that’s perpetrated on the machines. Only about 20 percent of ATMs in the United States have been adapted. ‘‘That’s not horrible,’’ said Bruce Owens, a senior vice president at MasterCard. ‘‘The tipping point is somewhere closer to 60 percent or so, where you see an advantage in the marketplace. We’ll probably be over the tipping point in the first half of 2017.’’
ATMs are just the latest pieces of equipment that need to be retrofitted for chip cards. More recently, US merchants have been changing their point-of-sale equipment to use the technology — a process that’s been bumpy. For gas stations, the switch-over is coming up.
‘‘I would say ATMs are having as we speak the same challenges that point-of-sale terminal manufacturers have,’’ said Robert Woodbury, senior vice president and general manager at FIS Payment Networks.
The new technology is designed to cut down on the use of counterfeit cards and skimming, a practice in which crooks modify an ATM in such a way that they are able to collect customers’ PIN codes and card numbers, and then access their accounts.
Last year, such ATM breaches jumped sixfold in the United States, according to FICO Card Alert Service, as the move by merchants to accept chip cards left many criminals looking for new targets.
Criminal activity was highest at nonbank ATMs, such as those in convenience stores, hotels, and bars, where 10 times as many machines were compromised as in 2014, FICO said.
‘‘As it becomes more difficult to perpetrate other types of fraud, they go after the weakest links in the chain,’’ said Julie Conroy, an analyst at Aite Group. ‘‘You have greater opportunity in many cases with ATM skimming.”
Even with the new equipment in place, the problems don’t go away. Criminals have already figured out new ways to steal from ATMs, even if they are EMV-enabled.
At least you won't notice when your drunk.
They can jam them, so consumers can’t collect money they’ve asked to withdraw, but the criminals can.
Another trick is so-called card entrapment, when the criminals’ device traps a consumer’s card inside the machine, and the PIN is captured, so the criminals can complete withdrawals.
Some small businesses that own ATMs say they are also having trouble getting enough hardware to upgrade their machines on time.
‘‘You know what the biggest challenge for a company like ours right now?’’ Ayesh said. ‘‘It’s getting the upgrade equipment.
“The manufacturers don’t have enough supplies to give to all the ATM companies for us to complete the upgrades. So I doubt it if we’re going to meet our October deadline for a lot of these guys.’’
The drunkenness is only going to add to the impatience.
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