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Protecting ATM users in Honduras

Patricia Aracely Solórzano Flores
The use of ATMs (automatic teller machines) has become an important part of our lives; their popularity relies on the fact that they allow card holders to have quick and easy access to cash whenever they need it, thus avoiding the risk of getting robbed or losing money. However, due to technological advances, the security provided by ATMs is becoming outdated. Yet the use of security measures to protect users from being victims of crime is compulsory. Based on this necessity, and on the increasing number of complaints received at the Financial User Protection Office from ATM users, on December 6 2012 the Honduran Banking and Insurances National Commission issued the Safety Standards for Operating ATMs (Safety Standards). This represents the general trend of financial regulation in Honduras, where the user has become the central figure.

Before the Safety Standards, card issuers were only required to implement proper measures to identify the card holder, but there were no rules regulating physical safety at ATMs. Today, according to the Safety Standards, ATM owners must comply with security guidelines, such as (i) employ mechanisms that guarantee the privacy of the transactions made in them, so that the information used is not available to third parties; (ii) take appropriate security measures in the places where ATMs are installed; video cameras must have good resolution for recording and storing images and movements of the events that occur at ATMs, and should allow the identification of the ATM user; (iii) external ATMs must be installed in an enclosure, the access door must have an internal mechanical locking device, to prevent third party access into the enclosure when the client or user is using the ATM, or if it is not in an enclosure then it must have physical security (a security guard) during public opening hours, or when the use of the ATM requires so.

The Safety Standards also regulate liability issues. In the event of a complaint from an ATM user in relation to the use of an ATM, the card Issuing company is jointly and severally liable with the ATM owner, unless the card issuing company is able to prove that it had nothing to do with the damage caused.

The approval of the Safety Standards is a significant advance in ensuring the physical safety of ATM users. But they are also evidence of the protectionist trend that Honduras has adopted over the past years.

Patricia Aracely Solórzano Flores

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