With over 2 lakh ATMs to be recalibrated by a team of around 3,000 technicians across banks throughout the country, there has been little progress so far. A banking source aware of the development said that as of now only around 15,000 ATMs mostly in large cities have been recalibrated.
On Saturday, the finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that the calibration across ATMs will take around 2-3 weeks, but bankers say that they are negotiating various challenges to make this happen.
“While the ATMs have to be recalibrated both on hardware and software front, there are only around 3,000 technicians across the country to do that and in the meantime they are also caught up with refilling task at the ATMs, which are drying up every two hours. Only around 7-8 per cent or around 15,000 of the total number of ATMs in the country have been recalibrated as of now,” he added.
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In all the ATMs that have not been recalibrated for dispensing the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, only Rs 100 notes were being fed. Bankers say that this has posed a big challenge for them as a completely full ATM could only be fed with currency valued at
Rs 2.5 lakh and it could only serve around 125 people. “The ATMs have been going dry every two hours and they needed to be refilled. While the technicians are required for the recalibration task, they were also required to refill the ATMs and it has been a challenge,” the source added.
However, with Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes now being used to refill around 15,000 ATMs which have been recalibrated, bankers say that they can last for around 5 hours and that gives more time for technicians to do the recalibration work. Another banker said that while there are around 20 agencies (five big ones operating nationally) that service the ATMs, even they are facing constraint on account of the low denomination currency to be fed. “One van generally feeds around 5 ATMs in a particular location and the van’s capacity is also limited so if it could take higher value of money into its van and feed several machines in that area, now they can refill lesser number of ATMs. Hopefully, with more number of new high denomination currency coming in, the pressure would ease,” said the official.
An official with a large private sector bank said that a rough inhouse assessment shows that the footfalls in bank branches has gone up three times and the cash transactions are up five times as compared to a normal working day. He further said that the fact that deposits coming to banks can’t be used to pay those coming for withdrawals, is another constraint. “All the individuals coming for withdrawals have to be serviced only through the supply coming from RBI and that is also a restraint for banks,” he said.