Money & Banking

Long wait, longer lines for currency swap on Day 1

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 15, 2018

Customers wait in queue at an Andhra Bank branch in Vijayawada before the counters had opened on Thursday morning. -- V. Raju

People queue up to exchange their old large denomination notes at an SBI branch in Mumbai on Thursday. - Paul Noronha

Many people across the country spent almost all of Thursday waiting in queues to exchange their ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes.

After an agonising wait of over 24 hours to get their legally earned money revalidated through new notes, people thronged to banks with notes and identity proof.

Big crowds were seen at branches even before the banks opened as many wanted to be the first when the doors were opened.

“I never expected to face a stampede to use my legally earned money,” said PVR Sastry, a retired teacher, while struggling to find a place in the queue at an Andhra Bank branch in Hyderabad.

M Rashid, a retired doctor, fainted after two cops pushed him while trying to regulate crowds at the Abids branch of State Bank of India in Hyderabad.

“We put everything in place to manage the rush at branches and requested the customers to be patient. Things are going on well except that customers have to be patient,’’ Santanu Mukharjee, Managing Dirctor, State Bank of Hyderabad, told BusinessLine.

According to a senior executive of Bank of Maharashtra, the scenario was similar in all cities including Mumbai, Thane, and Pune.

“As per our information, almost all banks witnessed serpentine queues with 150 to 200 customers waiting from 10 am onwards,’’ he said.

An official at ICICI Bank’s South Mumbai branch said footfalls were almost 20 times more than the normal 100 customers daily. Sales staff was roped in from field to man additional counters to clear the rush.

The official said almost 70 per cent of the 2,000-odd customers who turned up at the branch exchanged their old high denomination notes.

Banks officials said the exchange process for the most part was orderly. However, at a few places the cops had to be called in to control the crowd.

Bank staff were seen directing the customers to fill a request slip to indicate denomination of notes and attach a valid government identity proof. All banks opened exclusive channels/counter for exchange of currency and cash deposits.

Private banks such as ICICI Bank and Axis Bank had sent text messages to their customers informing that they can deposit any number of demonetised notes in their accounts and there was no need for panic. The limit for currency exchange, however, is of ₹4,000 per day. Bankers are expecting the rush to continue for two-three days.

“As ATMs start functioning from Friday, some may avoid coming to branches to avoid waiting,’’ said R Prasad, a SBI executive.

But there was good news for bank stocks. SBI and ICICI Bank shares hit a 52-week high today. The Nifty Bank index surged 3.5 per cent, led by Bank of Baroda, SBI, YES Bank and ICICI Bank.

Published on November 10, 2016

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