Although the government has stepped in and assured that it is taking steps to tackle the cash shortage at ATMs, the printing of notes by RBI appears to be taking some time. Photo: Reuters
Mumbai: Dhamangaon, Maharashtra-based Pritam Chandak, 28, wanted to withdraw some cash last week but drew blank at two ATMs in his hometown to pay fees for his chartered accountancy course. With ATMs running dry, he had to borrow money. Elsewhere in Hyderabad, Kartik Damodar drew blank three times at two different ATMs in the past month.
Mint readers in Delhi have complained too about facing similar problems.
The memories of demonetisation are alive and kicking. Although it happened 15 months back, reports of dry Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, with no cash are still trickling in. Although the government has stepped in and assured that it is taking steps to tackle the cash shortage at ATMs, the printing of notes appears to be taking some time.
“ATM managed service providers (MSPs) have not been paid for re-calibrating the ATMs after demonetisation. So when the new 200 rupee note came into circulation, many MSPs refused to re-caliberate the ATMs further. Banks see this as a decision of the government and are waiting to get reimbursed by the government in order to pay the MSPs. This has led to a shortage of lower denomination notes. This is one of the reasons why ATMs are facing a cash crunch”, said a senior bank sector official, requesting anonymity.
“There is a disproportionate number of Rs 2000 notes in circulation. These notes are used a store of value and not as a medium of exchange, There is an urgent need for lower denomination notes to enter circulation,”said Ravi Rajagopalan, managing director and chief executive officer, Empays Payment Systems.
Aside from the government’s reassurances, what should people do to avoid facing cash crunch at ATMs?
Net banking, mobile wallets
Having online banking makes sense as it allows people to not just make purchases but also to transfer money. “Recharge SIM balance online, through the telecom service provider’s website”, says Amol Joshi, founder, PlanRupee Investment Services. Make use of e-wallets to buy essential groceries, book movie tickets or even pay for your taxi fares, wherever necessary.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
Instead of the multi-step net banking transfers, use the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) on your mobile phone to make instantaneous and direct bank account to account payments. Either download your bank’s mobile phone app (check if your bank allows UPI payment facility) or download BHIM app on your smartphone.
The ATM card usually doubles up as a debit card. “Sometimes people use credit cards just to accumulate the bonus points and they could end up spending more than usual. Since money spend on debit cards go straight out of your bank account as soon as people swipe it, the spending is controlled”, says Steven Fernandes, a Mumbai-based certified financial planner. It’s also desirable to have a credit card handy, though, but keep the spending in check.
Try giving out cheques to make payments some of the daily payments, such as salaries to support staff and so on. With the launch of Jan Dhan accounts, much of the country’s erstwhile un-banked population, now have bank accounts.
“Pay your local service provider (driver, maid, newspaper vendor and grocer) online and educate at least one person to either use an e-wallet or opening a bank account for long term benefit”, says Joshi.
Cash at home
Cash may no longer be the king, but it still pays to have some cash at home, just in case. Keep a month’s worth of expenses in cash. This can come in handy when ATMs run dry. However, remember, if ATMs run dry, you can still withdraw money from a bank branch using a self-addressed cheque.