Playing it Smart with Your Smart Safe

The Importance of a Secure, Flexible, and Affordable Wireless Connection

Anyone used to dealing with a large amount of cash knows hard currency can save a lot of money in purchase transaction fees and other expenditures. Having cash on hand can also create a number of additional problems.

While credit card transactions are automatically authorized, processed and deposited, those handling paper payments must deal with counterfeit currency, and a stack of bills and change waiting to be taken to the bank.

Fortunately, technology has finally seen fit to help alleviate some of these cash difficulties through the introduction of the smart safe or intelligent safe.

What Makes a Safe “Smart”?

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Smart safes are designed to sort and count cash, check for counterfeit currency and automatically communicate the deposit information to the retailer’s bank account.

The technology removes a lot of the time and effort cash normally requires, with the added benefit that the deposit happens much sooner.

Security is another major concern for retailers dealing in cash. Large amounts of hard currency can make any location a target for theft – both internal and external.

The most common losses are when employees find cash too tempting to pass up and begin skimming off the top. Potentially more frightening is the possibility of becoming a target of robbery.

Both situations can result in large losses – especially for those locations dealing primarily in cash. In addition to transactional/internal security, smart safes also limit outside access more thoroughly than traditional safes.

Many smart safes come with pry resistant doors, anti-lock drilling features, bolt reinforcements, high security locks and keys as well as the potential for tamper sirens and other security options. Data security options are also common.

However, data security relies heavily on the network or type of connectivity selected for use with the safe.

Convenience & Connectivity

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Smart safes rely on dependable communications to operate properly – to communicate with the retailer’s financial institution, to monitor real-time visibility of cash levels as well as integration with armored car services and point-of-sale systems.

There are several options for this connection, however, not all connection options are created equal.

  • Landline/DSL – While an onsite landline or DSL may seem like the obvious solution, this plan has a number of drawbacks. It severely limits the locations available for smart safe placement, potentially requiring the machine to be set up in a less desirable or less secure area than the merchant prefers. Landlines also have a tendency to run on a general shared network through unsecured servers, or through the store’s computer system, leaving the banking and cash data more vulnerable to hacking. Landlines can also cost thousands of dollars to setup and merchants risk being placed on a waiting list for installation. In addition, using a landline or DSL can slow down or, in some cases, kill the sales process because the retailer’s IT department will need to be involved; taking control of the installation out of the smart safe providers hands.
  • WiFi/LAN Connectivity – Utilizing a local area wireless network is also an option. WiFi frees up safe placement options, however, like landlines or DSL, there are potential problems with this option. Limited range of service, interference as well as complex propagation effects that are beyond the control of the network administrator are drawbacks. In addition, WiFI has security weaknesses that could put the merchant’s financial information at risk. And, visible WiFi network may actually attract the attention of hackers.
  • Cellular Communications (Wireless 3G or 4G Communications) – Wireless 3G or 4G connections are far less likely to be hacked than WiFi due to the security and encryption inherent in the cellular technologies. Like WiFi, using cellular communications allows the safe to be placed in an optimal location. “Cellular” wireless is easy to install and maintain, has a more reliable signal and wider range than WIFi, and is often faster and less expensive than other communications options. Cellular is also the banking industry’s preferred communications method.

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