For years, ATMs have served as a great tool for accessing quick cash. And as long as ATMs have been around, thieves have attempted to come up with new and more elaborate ways to access the riches inside. Banks and card companies are constantly developing new ways to stay one step ahead of thieves, but a new player has emerged in Bulgarian startup SkimProt.
The device that these guys are offering is a simple strip designed to keep prying eyes of skimmers away. The product works by rendering the magnetic strip useless and instructing the ATM to use the more secure embedded chip. If that is not possible, the strip can be easily removed and the card can be used in the normal manner.
Emil Tzolov from SkimProt tells me that they offering the strip for € 9,99 in Europe and $9.99 elsewhere. Thus far, the company has sold 15,000 strips in countries like Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, England, Poland, Denmark, South Africa, Venezuela, and Kazakhstan.
As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention” and that is the case here. Tzolov tells me that the idea for strip came to creator Dimitar Chobanov after getting skimmed for the second time. Chobanov set out to develop a product that could hide the information on the card’s magnetic strip. He started by creating a sticker on top of the strip, but that did not work out very well and the ATM ate the card. After a number of attempts at trial-and-error, he found a material that worked and managed to create a product suitable for retail. At the time, Chobanov also connected with a potential investor, Bulgarian printing house DEMAX. Tzolov says that DEMAX invested an amount “not exceeding” 100K Euro in the startup.