While banks have maintained that essential services like cash deposits, withdrawals, remittances and clearing of cheques are available at branches, many interior regions in the country are facing problems in withdrawing cash from ATMs, branches and utilising services of business correspondents (BCs) of banks.
As per banking sources, due to the lockdown, the cash management system has slowed down with rural areas getting hit as currency vans are yet to fill cash in ATMs. Besides, month-end cash demand to meet basic requirements is also high. BCs, agents of banks working in rural areas, are unable to operate and facilitate cash withdrawals and deposits.
In a letter to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, the Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI) said, “a large number of labour, small towns and village resident population working away from home is not able to deposit/withdraw cash for daily and are facing great difficulties.” In most rural areas, customers are unable to meet BCs due to shutdown of transport services.
BCFI said a number of its affiliate members have reported that their agents are being harassed by police and other agencies and not being allowed to operate or visit the branches as required under banking services guidelines for withdrawal and depositing cash.
In her interactions with heads of public and private banks on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told them to ensure “adequate cash” was available at the branch, ATM and BC level. Despite banking and financial services being exempt, the lockdown has affected movement of cash from currency chests to rural areas. The Finance Ministry is holding discussions to states to ensure there are no restrictions on movement of cash, bankers, vendors or bank mitras.
The Indian Banks Association, meanwhile, has advised customers that most banking services are available online.
Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines