The year 2022 saw a rapid rise in micro ATMs being deployed across the country. According to data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), there exists 14.19 lakh micro ATMs across the country as of December 2022. However, there was no significant rise in the value of money withdrawn through these devices since June last year.

Micro ATMs, as the name suggests, are small ATMs or card-swipe machines that are portable and handheld. They also facilitate cardless money disbursal, using the Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AePS) at remote locations. According to the RBI, “The micro platform will enable function through low-cost devices (micro ATMs) that will be connected to banks across the country. This would enable a person to instantly deposit or withdraw funds regardless of the bank associated with a particular business correspondent (BC). This device will be based on a mobile phone connection and would be made available at every BC. Customers would just have to get their identity authenticated and withdraw or put money into their bank accounts.”

The trend

At the end of 2020, there were just about 3.56 lakh micro ATMs in India. In December 2021, it rose to 5.9 lakh. The number more than doubled to reach a whopping 14.19 lakh in December 2022, show data.

Meanwhile, cash withdrawals worth ₹19.67-lakh crore were done in December 2020. In December 2021, it was ₹25.2-lakh crore, and grew to only about ₹25.5-lakh crore by November 2022, when the number of micro ATMs stood at 13.3 lakh. This also means that the value of transactions per micro ATM per month is also going down. The cash withdrawal numbers for December are yet to be released.

However, this wasn’t the trend all the time. During the pandemic, the value of cash withdrawal through micro ATMs grew multifold. While it was ₹1,17,086 crore in FY20, it grew 92 per cent to ₹2,25,041 crore in the next financial year. In FY22, it was at ₹2,99,776 crore.

Of India’s 14.19 lakh micro ATMs, almost a quarter — 3.55 lakh — are deployed by Fino payments bank. SBM Bank India Ltd has deployed 3.3 lakh of them, and the third biggest player is NSDL Payments Bank with 2.25 lakh devices.