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Friday, December 2, 2011

Equip ATMs to accept cash directly, suggests panel

A year down the line government-owned bank ATMs in urban as well as rural areas may start accepting cash (not in an envelope but directly), have solar powered back-up, and 24x7 surveillance.

The aforementioned are some of the recommendations of a government-appointed committee on ATMs headed by Dr Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Professor, IIT-Madras. These come at a time when the Government has directed the 21 banks in which it owns majority stake to go in for joint procurement of ATMs.
Cash acceptor

Besides dispensing notes, which are soiled but can be issued, and retracting notes left behind by customers, the ATMs to be deployed by public sector banks will come equipped with a cash acceptor.

The cash acceptor will accept teller grade currency notes of denominations ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 1,000.

The idea behind incorporating the cash acceptance feature — intra-bank and inter-bank — in ATMs is to ensure that customers such as small retailers, traders, and vegetable vendors can deposit cash after the close of business hours and get immediate credit for the same in their account.

Banks could also add the currency recycle feature so that the frequency of replenishing the ATMs comes down.

Currently, bank ATMs offer cash deposit facility in an envelope. However, there is a delay of a day or two in crediting the depositor's account. This is so because the envelope has to be deposited at the designated branch, and opened and counted by bank staff in the presence of two witnesses.
Integrated Surveillance

To tackle incidents such as stolen ATM cards being misused, the committee said all ATMs must have an internal camera. It should store images in a digital format for at least two months.

The integrated ATM surveillance solution must be able to capture and stamp the transaction information on the images and also allow for monitoring from a central location.

ATMs must be able to handle an average of 300 transactions in urban and semi-urban areas and 200 transactions in rural areas in a day and must work for at least 16 hours a day using solar power alone.

The committee has emphasised the importance of solar powered back-up for ATMs due to the frequent power cuts in rural and semi-urban areas. Further, the ATMs must be able to function without air-conditioner.

Besides cash withdrawal and acceptance, ATMs should, among others, enable transactions such as change in personal identification number (PIN), registration for mobile banking, mini-statement of last 10 transactions, balance enquiry, request for cheque books and funds transfer (intra and inter bank)


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