Secure and efficient banknote handling

Innovation project: Networked systems for automated currency circuits

The number of banknotes worldwide is constantly increasing, with nine out of ten transactions paid in cash. However, banknote circulation (e.g. through ATMs) is expensive. This is because mechanical sorting and authentication processes can be prone to error due to the high speeds involved, resulting in soiled, damaged and counterfeit banknotes being incorrectly processed. This causes breakdowns, which require time-consuming and therefore expensive maintenance work to the ATM and in a branch. The banknotes must be examined manually before they are delivered to the machine. A further problem is that the machines are vulnerable to manipulation, resulting in unauthorized access. To reduce the costs of handling cash and improve ATM security, automatic banknote sorting and delivery must be optimized and intelligent security mechanisms developed to prevent unauthorized access.

The aim of the project is to develop new hardware that avoids errors in automatically sorting and authenticating banknotes. It also involves designing software to quickly detect and prevent attempts to manipulate ATMs.

In order to automate cash handling, self-optimization and control engineering processes are incorporated into sorting and authentication. Sensor signals and control algorithms are dynamically combined to give new hardware self-optimizing properties. This allows soiled, damaged and counterfeit banknotes to be clearly identified and correctly processed. To improve the security of ATMs, information processing components such as optical and thermal motion sensors are interlinked. The compiled data is evaluated using statistical and mathematical methods and machine learning processes. In this way, manipulation attempts can be detected quickly and countermeasures – such as notifying the bank branch – can be implemented autonomously. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking and systems engineering. The solutions developed are validated using prototypes and integrated into ATMs.

The project allows the efficiency and quality of cash handling to be improved and ATM breakdowns avoided. In addition, ATM security is increased and unauthorized access can be prevented. The new solutions can be transferred to handling processes for other valuable items such as checks and tickets. They also form the basis for an intelligent link between individual cash streams involving banks and commercial businesses, known as cash cycle management. In this respect, there is potential for future savings of several billion euros in global handling costs.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 September 2016