Money & Banking

Now, walk into a kirana and withdraw cash

Bengaluru | Updated on December 01, 2020 Published on December 01, 2020

Mahagram, a fintech firm, aims to deploy 12 lakh wireless Bharat ATMs in small stores

Soon, you may be able to withdraw cash from your neighbourhood kirana shop. Mumbai-based fintech start-up Mahagram is set to deploy 12 lakh wireless ATMs in small retail stores, as banks are finding it increasingly unviable to operate and maintain these machines across the country.

Not every kirana will be ATM-enabled. Mahagram will onlyselect those that have adequate cash transactions every day.

The five-year-old bootstrapped start-up launched Bharat ATM, a rural banking platform, last month, using private banks’ proprietary licences. Bharat ATM already has 1.5 lakh touchpoints across the country comprising 20,000 handheld terminals (wireless ATMs) for card payments that run on Aadhaar and RuPay cards.

The rest are on Android mobiles with the Bharat ATM app installed, which can be used along with a fingerprint scanner for Aadhaar authentication to dispense cash.

How it works

The handheld wireless terminals are given to kirana store owners to enable card payments for customers, and the store owners are asked to download the Bharat ATM app on their Android mobile phones. “The four most popular ATMs in the country are those of ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and SBI, which are big brands. At present, there is no consumer brand for micro ATMs in the country besides Bharat ATM,” said Ram Shriram, founder and CEO, Mahagram. “In three to four years, banks will shut down their ATMs as they are becoming unviable. Recently, a large private bank said it will charge ₹50 for more than three ATM transactions/month, versus five transactions/month earlier,” he added.

Sonu Sood signed up

The start-up roped in Bollywood actor Sonu Sood to popularise the use of Bharat ATMs a month ago; the app saw 20,000 downloads in the first 10 days. With an average cash withdrawal of ₹2,200 on Bharat ATMs, and eight transactions per person per month, Mahagram saw its business grow 300 per cent during the pandemic.

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Published on December 01, 2020
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