Follow the Money

What’s stalling the move to IP video in the financial sector?


We saw the same trends at the IT-centric Interop show. Video on the network is often seen as the enemy to IT departments; so, in each industry we need to distinguish between network video surveillance, which is controllable, and the streaming YouTube-type video that most IT folks must contend with. For bank IT departments, do advanced compression standards like H.264 add weight to the argument?

The real issue is the cost of the pipeline. To successfully mitigate risk, banks still need to record numerous cameras with high-image clarity. So, even when using the H.264 compression standard, this high-quality video can put a significant demand on bandwidth and storage. The cost for a secure line that can handle that level of data traffic with sufficient speed can be a higher burden than most banks are willing to bear. Unless everything becomes free, or very low-cost, bandwidth usage is still going to be a barrier to adoption.


Maybe this is why banks across Europe have seen far more success with IP surveillance. Broadband is more widely available and oftentimes faster for less money than in the United States. But still, high-quality video should only be needed at the actual branch, not offsite. Internal pipeline speeds are plentiful and should be more than enough to transmit this video at a low cost. For anything that needs to be transmitted offsite, the bandwidth challenge would be the same even if they were using an analog DVR. But like you mentioned before, this comes down to educating the end-users and integrators on the difference in bandwidth and speed needs for onsite storage vs. offsite archiving. Let’s go back to what you said earlier regarding “secure lines.” Are there any special compliance issues that would impact the use of IP video?

Integrating video with transaction data subjects financial institutions to a PCI (Payment Card Industry) audit. To add value to a financial institution, the video footage needs to be easily searchable. Ideally, we’d like to be able to pull up transaction “123” at a particular ATM and see if someone “borrowed” a debit card and withdrew $50 from the account. However, linking journal transaction numbers, withdrawals and deposits with personal account numbers raises a red flag when it comes to data security standards. It is one of the reasons ATM receipts only print out the last four digits of the account number. Maintaining compliance within the integration can be complex, and the ability to marry video footage with corresponding transaction information needs to be further developed. There’s a fine line between tagging the video for easy retrieval and maintaining compliance. With IP technology, tagging video can be achieved — now, we have to work with the banks to make them feel comfortable with the new process.


Will the efforts by various organizations to create industry standards help ease the transition to IP?

While the analog world is portrayed as proprietary and the IP world is portrayed as an open one, not all vendors truly adhere to the standards they claim to support. In an ideal world, IP video technology would be able to be mixed and matched since everyone would build their equipment to an agreed-upon standard. But standards are applied at multiple levels and when you delve deeper into the technology, you find that some vendors’ cameras will only work with select network video recorders. No one wants to be caught investing in a dead-end standard. The IP manufacturers who will win are the ones committed to an open ecosystem and consistent standards. The biggest challenge to the widespread adoption of IP technology remains the cost. Even with the cost of IP video technology decreasing, financial institutions still need a partner who will help them to understand the cost vs. benefit ratio. It is all about the goals of the individual bank and how technology can help them meet those goals.