ATM Source: Shutterstock.

The Lancaster, Penn.-based ATM fleet operator Paramount Management Group said it has begun applying an antiviral shield to ATMs in an effort to combat the coronavirus.

The film-like shield, produced by a company named ViaClean Technologies, lasts for up to 90 days, Paramount Chief Development and Marketing Officer Jorge Fernandez told CU Times. It’s a way to address the logistical issues of trying to disinfect ATMs after each use, he noted.

“Part of the problem is you can clean a machine, you can disinfect it, but it’s only as good as the next person that uses it,” he said.

According to a press release from Paramount Management Group, the system, called Bioprotectus, uses EPA-registered, FDA-compliant technologies that “disinfect and inhibit the growth and spread of problematic bacteria, fungi, algae, mold and viruses, as well as providing long-term antimicrobial protection for metal, plastic and textile surfaces.”

ViaClean Technologies Chairman and CEO Jim Young said the system is the first on the market that disinfects and protects against the spread of bacteria, mold and viruses. The company also said extensive laboratory testing has established that the system eliminated and provided long-term eradication and suppression of microorganisms that can cause viruses. It will continue to do more testing to confirm the efficacy of the product on COVID-19, it noted.

“Right now, we are living through a period of uncertainty, with cardholders unsure of the safety of payment devices because of the possible transmission of COVID-19. Through the application of this system, we aim to diminish some of those fears by providing access to ATMs that have been disinfected and protected against viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and mold,” Fernandez said in the press release.

Jorge Fernandez Jorge Fernandez

Applying the film to ATMs is a two-part process. First, workers spray an alcohol-based disinfectant on a paper towel and clean all the surfaces. Then they spray a mist of the bioprotection product over the surfaces. The mist settles onto the machine and dries, Fernandez told CU Times.

“We spray the screen, and we spray the keyboard, and we spray the area where the money comes out of,” he explained. The whole process takes about five minutes per ATM, he said.

The materials are largely inexpensive, he said. “The most expensive part of that whole thing is the labor,” Fernandez noted.

The company puts a sticker on ATMs that have received the treatment, Fernandez said.

For now, Paramount is only applying the antiviral film to its own fleet and its customers’ ATMs. The company currently doesn’t have the infrastructure to roll out the service beyond that, Fernandez said.

The rollout of the antiviral shield system comes on the heels of new efforts and guidelines on ATM operation from some industry organizations.

Dolphin Debit, which also manages ATMs for credit unions, said it was also working closely with its clients and partners to be proactive in cleaning ATMs and helping credit unions maintain cleanliness going forward.

“To our knowledge there have been no instances of anyone catching COVID-19 from an ATM. Dolphin, its clients and partners are taking all the necessary precautions to work together to make it safe for consumers to use ATMs,” Dolphin Debit CEO Gary Walston told CU Times.

The National ATM Council, for example, recently partnered with Hyosung, Genmega and Triton to develop coronavirus mitigation guidelines, which include, among other things, documenting safety procedures and regularly disinfecting machines. The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have also issued recommended best practices for cleaning ATMs, including wearing gloves, using alcohol-based cleaners and other procedures.