Access Control for Banks 2023

27.11.2023 - Banks, of course, want people to come into their branches, just not all the time and not everywhere. Add to this the necessity for compliance with (inter)national security regulations for the banking industry. They are faced with restricting access to certain areas of the property to authorized people at valid times of day or night. Easy, you might think. Let us take a closer look at the headaches that this subject can cause for security managers, and some aspirins to relieve them.

In recent years in the face of severe online competition, ‘brick-and-mortar’ banks have had to reimagine what a physical branch should be and what the ‘branch of the future’ should look like. Some have redesigned interiors in the style of shops, with rows of consumer terminals displaying their banking app. The self-service cash in/out option must remain and is being enhanced in some locations with community spaces and advanced technology. These spaces are for people who have to use cash rather than using an online transfer of funds, including retailers and many small businesses, as well as people with limited digital literacy for example. As cash use continues to decline, the banking infrastructure is becoming unsustainable and many former ATM locations have been closed.

However, until the last ATM is switched off, the customer’s ‘open Sesame’ credit or debit card is internationally the most common method of granting access to customers, or valid guests, to an indoor area containing ATMs and/or other customer terminals. Installing good video surveillance can help to ensure that there are no untoward activities in the ATM hall, such as fitting skimmers to the keypads, lurking in the area and snatching freshly withdrawn cash, or preparing an ATM machine to be blasted apart. Remote access on mobile devices to live video feeds is an essential feature to be able to handle hostage and other alarm situations, and even if cloud access has been interrupted.

Real-Time Action

Geutebruck recently commissioned a comprehensive upgrade of a bank’s video security by providing remote monitoring and control of seventy surveillance systems installed at outlying branches. Maintenance tasks and upgrades are performed remotely, while any alarms are fed back to the central security point. The entire system is set up with redundancy to ensure continued operation at all times. Kötter Services can provide a comprehensive security solution covering burglar and fire alarm systems combined with video surveillance and access control systems that report back to either your own or their own security center.

Public Traffic

Anyone intent on robbing a bank during opening hours does not want to be greeted on the way in. Although this may be considered labor-intensive these days, ‘greeters’ actually fulfill a number of useful functions apart from just being a first, passive security tool. The first impression a (wanted!) visitor has is one of being cared for – invaluable for customer retention. Secondly, a smiling source of information is much more appealing than a signboard. Thirdly – and here comes the punchline – a potential robber will immediately be looked straight in the eyes when they come through the door, and this can be deeply unsettling to them, perhaps even causing them to turn around on the spot and leave.
Security guards in a smart uniform are an even more potent visual deterrent to crooks, but also a reassuring presence to the general public who will automatically feel safer in the knowledge that someone is watching their back. In those countries where guards are allowed to be armed, any robbers who have previously inspected the situation there will strike that branch off the hit list. You might like to speak to Hel-Wacht to discuss your requirements for armed security personnel in Europe, or Neptune Security Group in the Middle East who have significant experience of threats in that part of the world.

Staffside Areas

Physical protection in a bank branch is of course not just to protect cash, but also the staff, the customers, safety deposit boxes, technical resources such as cash recyclers or cash deposit machines, sensitive data, and access to servers and other IT-components. Special consideration must be given to the access and security needs of cash-in-transit collection and delivery firms. Choosing a suitable system out of literally dozens of suppliers of electronic access control could be daunting, unless you make some decisions about the type of system you are looking for right at the start.

In a banking environment, we are looking for a versatile, flexible and easily-managed system that indelibly records which access token was used at what time to open which door. We will be ensuring that the tokens cannot be duplicated, and that the readers cannot be tricked. Two-step verification with biometric readers is of course almost obligatory for higher security areas. There will most likely also be a ‘duress’ code to silently alert to an emergency situation. Centralized management will be an essential feature, and there might well be some integration with video surveillance so that door activity triggers a video system to focus on that area. The need for all these and other high security features already thins out the candidate systems and suppliers considerably.

Honeywell Commercial Security understand the highly complex security requirements of the banking industry and can provide a holistic solution for branches, as well as for administrative headquarters or IT centers. Nedap Security is fully aware of the legislation to be complied with in many different countries, and has effectively a ‘one-stop-shop’ to provide the complete branch access control package. Its open solutions integrate freely with other building systems such as visitor and parking management, or elevator control for example. Genetec will help you define an open, unified and highly-developed solution that ensures compliance with applicable bank regulations. They have already issued a White Paper on the subject that is available for download1.

Employee Training

All the best technology in the world will not be secure if it is incorrectly used. Easy to overlook after concentrating so hard on the technology aspect is the human element. Human error, infiltration and blackmail situations can all be avoided, or at least the effects minimized, by ensuring that staff are aware of as well as competent and confident in handling such events. Specialist and trustworthy training is best provided by external specialists such as knowbe4 who have a comprehensive program of tailored training sessions available. To make situations much more realistic than simply one-way online training, WarpVR uses virtual reality technology to immerse the trainee in an environment close to what they could encounter, giving that ‘real-life’ feeling. DMAC security in North America not only provide training services but also ‘feet on the ground’ security staff among other services as part of an overall security strategy.

Lastly, do not overlook the type of security lapse that just makes you groan if it turns out to be the cause of a robbery. Security at a branch may be tight during the day, with visual checks of those coming into the branch by receptionists and ‘greeters’, and high-definition video surveillance keeping a watchful eye on things. But do not allow all the daytime security to dissolve at night because the cleaning crew is inside and they have propped the door open with a bucket.

[1] Genetec White Paper for the banking industry:


Author: David Jayne