Union Bank of India (UBI) plans to open nearly 100 “talking ATMs” for visually impaired customers across the country in 2012-13, Mr D. Sarkar, Chairman and Managing Director, said here on Monday. So far, UBI has four such ATMs – in Mumbai, Lucknow and Gujarat — and their usefulness has prompted the bank to increase the number.

In a talking ATM operated by a visually challenged person, the ATM’s monitor screen remains blank. The customer is provided with a headphone to listen to the instructions and follow them accordingly, he told a press conference after inaugurating UBI’s 57th regional office at Mehsana near here.

Overall, UBI plans to increase the total number of ATMs from 4,000 to nearly 5,000 in the country. UBI, which has overseas branches in Hong Kong, Sydney and Abu Dhabi, is set to open a branch in Dubai soon and is awaiting permission to open one in Belgium.

Replying to questions, Mr Sarkar said the overall credit demand in the banking industry is not satisfactory due to a variety of reasons, including inflation, high interest rates and bad monsoon this year. While UBI’s credit growth in 2011-12 was 19 per cent, it might decline this year by 2 to 3 per cent.

Similarly, he said, deposits are not improving to the extent expected. The NRI deposits, mainly from Gujaratis, Punjabis and Keralites, increased only by 15 per cent.

The Mehsana regional office will cater to the branches in five north Gujarat districts which are mainly agricultural areas. UBI has also launched its redesigned branch model under “UnionXperience” brand at Mehsana Highway. It will have a self-service lobby wherein customers would have a self-pass book printing facility, cheque deposit machines, phone banking etc beyond banking hours.

(This article was published on July 30, 2012)
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