Money & Banking

Frustration mounts as ATMs run dry within hours of opening

K Ramkumar G Naga Sridhar Mumbai/Hyderabad | Updated on January 15, 2018

Serpentine queue People waiting outside a branch of ICICI Bank in Hyderabad on Friday. Most of the ATMs in the city did not work today, adding to the burden on bank staff   -  Nagara Gopal


Bankers claim logistics issues; queues lengthen outside branches

The cup of currency woes for the public brimmed over today with most ATMs failing to re-open across the country and the queues at bank branches getting longer.

As per the RBI timetable, ATMs were to re-open today after two days when they were re-stocked to dispense ₹100 and ₹50 notes.

But the RBI cautioned that it may take a while for banks to recalibrate ATMs. But once done, public will be able to withdraw up to ₹2,000 per card per day up to November 18, and after that ₹4,000.

Several ATMs started functioning from this morning as the banks could complete recalibration of these machines to allow withdrawals up to ₹ 2000 to begin with.

But enquiries with leading bankers revealed that inventory, technical and logistics issues made it difficult for banks to deliver cash as promised.

According to State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, there is a “huge logistical issue”. “The initial movement of cash that we did in the night of November 8 is now about drying up. So, more cash has to be sent out and that is being constantly done. But we have to wait for certain amount of security measures there and also in certain places of the country weather conditions,’’ she said.

In the peripheral areas, there could be some disruption but efforts are on to see that everything is up and running, she added.

While many banks are shying away from sharing actual data on how many ATMs functioned today, on-ground surveys by Team BL and feedback from people in different cities showed that many did not function. Andhra Bank had about 70 per cent of its ATMs operational.

“I visited 20 ATMs of all banks in the last one hour, not a single machine is operational,” M Mohit, who works for Infosys, told Business Line in Hyderabad.

However, ATMs of almost all banks put up ‘No Cash’ boards and customers were seen moving in search of another ATM.

Similar was the experience of many in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Bengaluru, and elsewhere.

Asked about reasons for non-functioning of many machines, a top executive of a public sector bank said there was no adequate stock of ₹100 notes. “We are hoping the RBI will chip in with fresh supplies for stacking in ATMs. There are some technological issues including ATMs configuration for dispensing new notes.”

According to Rajiv Kaul, CEO and Vice-Chairman, CMS Info Systems, one of the large cash management players in the country: “We not only need to replenish the machines with the new notes but also ensure every ATM recognises the new notes and manages multiple replenishments due to lower denominations.”

Kaul said the entire country’s ATM network will be streamlined to the new order in two-four weeks.

To add to the woes of customers, some banks slashed the withdrawal limit on their own.

All this only lengthened queues at bank branches. Harried public waited to get the old ₹500/1,000 notes exchanged, or to deposit them, and draw some money for daily expenses.

Published on November 11, 2016

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