Number Of ATMs Going Down In India, Queues Get Longer

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New Delhi:  Despite the government’s efforts to push cashless/ digital transactions in the country, cash transactions are at pre-demonetisation levels. With currency in circulation surging and the number of ATMs shrinking over the past two years, the average usage of ATMs is on the rise as well.

In fact, according to the data, From about 105 transactions per day recorded after the demonetisation in April 2017, average daily transactions have increased to 130 in April this year.

As per a recent ToI report, the increase in average usage of ATMs has been due to banks issuing more debit cards. According to the official data, while 78 crore debit cards were issued in April 2017, the number has gone up to 88 crore in April 2019.

The report cited bankers informing that after ATM regulations were tightened in the country, several banks found it way more economical to be just net issuers and pay Rs 15 transaction charges to other banks for use of their ATMs. As per RBI official data, For the week ended June 14, 2019, currency in circulation stood at Rs 22.19 lakh crore. The amount in April 2017 was Rs 14.17 lakh crore. This signifies that there is a 13% YoY increase in currency circulation.

With Jan Dhan accounts opening, ATM usage has also increased significantly in Tier II and Tier III towns, where rents are low. While most of the Jan Dhan accounts were opened three years ago, a lot of them are getting funded now due to the PM-Kisan scheme that credits Rs 2,000 every quarter into the accounts of low-income farmers. This is expected to boost ATM usage further.

The national daily report quoted founder chairman of Electronic Payment and Services, Mani Mamalla saying, “India has a long way to go before ATMs reach saturation level, considering that the average ATM per one lakh adults in India is around 22, which is half the global average”. “In China, despite advances in digital payment, there are three more ATMs than in India”, he added.

It is worth mentioning that earlier this year parliamentary panel asked the Reserve Bank to address the problem of perpetually dysfunctional ATMs so as to avoid any situation of a forced cash crunch. The Standing Committee on Finance also asked banks to install an adequate number of ATMs.

As per RBI data, there were 2,21,492 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the country as of September-end 2018. These included 1,43,844 ATMs of public sector banks, 59,645 ATMs of private banks and 18,003 of foreign banks, payments banks, small finance banks and White Label ATMs (WLAs), which are owned and operated by non-bank entities.

The committee expressed concern that “there are just not enough” ATMs being installed or added to cater to the rising demand for cash in an expanding economy, even as more and more debit cards are being issued and a large number of Jan Dhan accounts opened by banks.