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Denmark marks first year Sans Bank Heist

COPENHAGEN: With the hard currency usage decreased in recent years, Denmark has had its first year without bank robberies, according to the nation’s financial workers organization.

“It’s really great. Because of the tremendous strain it puts on the staff each time, vice president of a union Steen Lund Olsen said in a statement. It’s something you can’t even begin to understand the emotional impact of if you haven’t experienced it yourself,” he added.

The finance workers’ union noted that while holdups have become scarce, “many bank employees who have been robbed continue to struggle with the consequences”. Some still suffer from symptoms such as “anxiety, sadness, irritability, restlessness and insomnia”.

A jump in the use of cards and payment apps among Danes also means there’s less cash in circulation. Cash withdrawals have fallen by about 75% over the last six years, Bloomberg reported, citing central bank data. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the abandonment of cash, said the bank.

The union said there had been 221 bank robberies in 2000, which has slowly decreased to less than 10 a year since 2017. Denmark’s central bank reported in March last year that the use of cash had nearly halved from 23 percent of payments in 2017 to 12 percent in 2021.

Increased camera surveillance, improved alarm systems and stronger cooperation with the police have helped to bring the number down, according to Michael Busk-Jepsen, director of digitalization at Finance Denmark.

Another factor in the decline: a dramatic reduction in the number of cashiers.

Of around 800 bank branches in Denmark, only about 20 still have staff handling deposits and withdrawals. Most customers use one of the approximately 2,000 ATMs in the country, he added.

However, online banking fraud is increasing in Denmark. In the olden days, the robbers went to the banks. Now they go to the customers instead, says Busk-Jepsen.

Bank robberies are on the decline in other countries too. Moving away from cash to digital banking has given rise to cybercrime, such as hacks and phishing scams. Theses scams target bank details and other personal information.

American banks suffered 1,724 robberies in 2021, according to the FBI’s bank crime statistics. That’s down from 7,556 in 2004.

Zahra Sikandar
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