Lunch, dinner on the go, ATMs’ cash men fight odds

The fact that only Rs 100 notes are available as of now, and with Rs 2,000 notes requiring recalibration of most machines, makes their work tough.

Written by RAMENDRA SINGH | Lucknow | Published:November 14, 2016 1:59 am
atm-759 Queues outside a Mumbai ATM on Sunday. Nirmal Harindran

With the lines outside banks and ATM kiosks swelling, people responsible for transporting cash to ATMs are on an overdrive, working well past midnight, to get many as many machines ready to dispense cash.

Like in any other part of the country, each of these agencies cater to ATMs of half-a-dozen different banks. But unlike most other trades that get more hands in times of need, the problem for these agencies is that even in the middle of this emergency they cannot increase manpower, or outsource workers, due to security checks required for each new recruit, as they have to deal with huge amounts of cash.

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“In last three days we have been working till 2 or 3 am. All our employees are on the field – they are eating lunch and dinner on the go — and are working almost round-the-clock,” Abhay Singh, branch head of cash management firm SIS Prosegur, said in Lucknow.

“We have been working on removing the old currency from the ATMs. Then we had to deposit that cash at banks. That work is getting over now, and we started putting Rs 100 notes in ATMs from today,” he said, adding that most ATMs have started dispensing money now.

Mohit Dubey, vault officer for Secure Value India Limited, which handles 125 ATMs of about half-a-dozen banks in Lucknow, Sitapur, Sultanpur and Amethi districts, said the biggest problem has been unavailability of cash from banks. “The bank staff are also under strain. They are not able to give us as much priority due to increased public dealing (at bank branches). We think the situation will improve in coming days,” Dubey said.

He said his team of 40 is working up to 2 am for the last few days but is yet to resume all ATMs due to cash shortage from banks.

The fact that only Rs 100 notes are available as of now, and with Rs 2,000 notes requiring recalibration of most machines, makes their work tough.

Jitendra Singh, operations manager for Securitrans India, a Lucknow-based firm that caters to about 200 ATMs of HDFC, ICICI, Axis and IndusInd banks in Lucknow, Sitapur and Hardoi districts, said, “We have adequate manpower to service all ATMs we handle, but there is increased pressure now.” Abhishek Dikshit, an executive in ATM operations section of CMS, one of the largest cash management service providers servicing nearly 3,500 ATMs across UP, said removing old cash is “about 90 per cent complete”.