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Intelligent banknote neutralisation system

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An intelligent banknote neutralisation system (IBNS) is a security system which protects valuable items by rendering them unusable or easily detectable if an unauthorised individual tries to gain access to them. Dye packs are commonly used to safeguard currency against bank robberies in this manner; when such a pack is taken out of the bank, it releases an indelible dye that stains the money with a conspicuous bright color, making it easy to recognise as stolen. Bonding agents (glues) have been used more recently as alternative degradation agents.

Well-neutralised banknotes cannot be brought back into circulation easily. They can be linked to the crime scene and restricted procedures are in place to exchange them at the financial institution. This makes stealing neutralised banknotes uneconomical and impractical. In addition to foiling thefts, the IBNS acts to deter further attacks by removing the anticipated reward of the crime and increasing the risk of being caught.


In Europe the design of intelligent systems to protect valuables began in 1980. The overall goal was to create a secure system to provide additional security for cash-in-transit. The very first IBNS prototype using coloured smoke as neutralisation agent was invented by Spinnaker International Ltd in 1982. This made use of very lightweight and simple to use containers. In 1990, the first case of safety ink as a neutralizing agent was accepted to be used in soft-skinned vehicles.

At the same time, in Sweden, IBNS systems manufactured by Spinnaker were being used in non-armoured and partially armoured vehicles, demonstrating that this was a viable alternative to cash transportation with armoured trucks. The Swedish market decided to progress with IBNS boxes for cash transport.

In 1991 France changed its regulations to allow the use of IBNS in soft-skinned vehicles. The French CIT company VALTIS was the first to implement such a system to service three regional banks. In 2002, Banque de France implemented an international procedure to treat and exchange neutralized banknotes for CIT professionals. In 2003, the European Central Bank made a decision that defined the process and cost of exchanging neutralized Euro Banknotes among all National Central Banks in Europe.[1] In 2005, Banque de France implemented a special procedure regarding the treatment of stained banknotes deposited by private persons. In 2007, Sweden implemented a national regulation making the use of IBNS by CIT obligatory. The same year, the Belgian government also implemented a national regulation imposing the use of IBNS for cash-in-transit.

In 2010, the European Commission finalized a European regulation to harmonize cross-border cash transportation by road. The use of non-armoured vehicles in combination with IBNS is one of two accepted methods of transportation.[2]


Money stained with a permanent security ink

The concept of an IBNS is based upon the notion that criminals seek to maximize their reward while minimizing the potential cost of the crime.[3] Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems remove the anticipated reward of the crime and increase the risk of being caught. Reducing the reward of the crime is done by permanently marking the cash as stolen with an indelible security ink or bonding agent. Tracers and markers added to the ink or bonding agent provide forensic evidence linking the criminal to the crime scene, increasing the risk of being caught.

IBNS focuses on using technology to protect people, valuables and equipment whilst minimizing the use of weapons and armoured vehicles.

Dye pack[edit]

Deployed dye pack

A dye pack is a radio-controlled device used by banks to foil a robbery by causing stolen cash to be permanently marked with dye. The technology was invented in the United States in Georgia, in 1965.[4] In most cases, a dye pack is placed in a hollowed-out space within a stack of banknotes, usually $10 or $20 bills. This stack of bills looks and feels identical to a real one, but usually subtly marked in a way that is only privy to selected bank employees. The development of flexible dye packs makes it virtually impossible to detect by persons handling the stack.[5][6]

A stack of bills fitted with a dye pack is generally stored next to a magnetic plate at a bank teller's workstation. Under these conditions, it remains in standby or safe mode until a bank employee removes it from the plate and hands it to a robber, causing it to become armed. Once the pack is taken out of the building, a radio transmitter located at the door triggers a timer (typically at least 10 seconds), after which the dye pack explosively releases[7] an aerosol (usually of Disperse Red 9) and sometimes tear gas. The release is intended to mark the money and/or the robber's body with a brightly colored stain so that they can be easily recognized as having been involved in a crime. Depending on the specific contents of the pack, the release may incapacitate the robber and/or destroy the money as well. The chemical reaction causing the explosion of the pack and the release of the dye creates high temperatures of about 200 °C (400 °F) which further discourages a criminal from touching the pack or removing it from the bag or getaway vehicle.[5] Dye packs are used to foil robberies in over 75% of banks in the U.S.[5]


IBNS technology is typically found protecting cash inside ATMs, in retail establishments, in vending machines, and by the cash-in-transit industry, to protect cash in the public space.

Legislation and regulations[edit]

The use of IBNS is usually regulated by the presence or absence of a legal structure (legislation and regulations) as well as the legal conditions applying to the private security sector. Following are examples of the types of legal regulation pertaining to the neutralisation of national banknotes practised by the National Central Banks of various countries:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1], DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK of 20 March 2003 on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal of euro banknotes. EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK.
  2. ^ [2], Commission proposal for an EU Regulation to facilitate professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road. European Commission
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-08-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Barthe, Emmanuel. Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns. U.S. Department of Justice. 2006, p.9.
  4. ^ Di Paola, Jim (19 November 1989). "DYE PACKS FOIL BANK ROBBERS' CLEAN GETAWAYS". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "I've heard of bank robbers being foiled by a 'dye pack' put in their money stash. What is a 'dye pack'?". How Stuff Works. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  6. ^ US 5485143, Keniston, Scott E., "Security dye pack having flexible heat-resistant chemical pouch", published 1996-01-16, assigned to US Currency Protection Corp. 
  7. ^ "Thieves caught after dye pack explodes in bank heist". New York Post. Retrieved October 23, 2016.

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