By Pradeep Kumar
ITANAGAR, Sept 20: Arunachal Pradesh, a predominately tribal dominated society, has remained mostly a cash-based economy as poor internet connectivity posing hurdles in switching over to online transaction.
The cash seeks making a long queue in front most of the ATMs (automated teller machines) in Capital Complex get disillusioned if any ATM is either defunct or no cash and spew curses.
An account holder of Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) the other day came with a complaint that the bank’s ATM was damaged depriving the ATM holders from its service.
When contacted the BoM authority informed that the ATM was damaged by some miscreants for which complaint has been lodged with the police and the issue was raised during a meeting with state DGP recently.
Though such act is a loss for the BoM, but causing suffering for own people who wanted cash beyond banking hours was mindless. Those who damaged may be for non availability of cash or defunct due to internet failure crossed limit to notoriousness without realizing who would be sufferers.
Like the complaint, many are suffering for inability to withdraw cash easily. Good sense should prevail upon one and all to part of multifarious development the state is heading for.
However, the June 2019 RBI report said: “India with cash equivalent USD 218 per capita in 2017, scores highly over even developed countries in low per capita cash in circulation. However, per capita availability of cash is quite low when compared to most countries. India is in the middle in amount of active cash circulation relative to GDP (10.7% in 2017). While India had a rapidly shrinking cash level in 2017 as compared to 2012, other countries with the exception of Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Sweden had increasing cash levels. Although cash is deeply embedded in the payment systems in India, planned efforts post-demonetisation have shown that shift from cash to digital can be achieved.
As per RBI’s April 2018 statistics, India had total 31,93,356 operational ATMs, including 6,13,877 by India’s largest bank State Bank of India and 3,29,108 by second-largest ICICI Bank while BoM only 3,390 ATMS.
An ATM costs between Rs 5.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh while it’s per month maintenance cost is around Rs 47,000. The banks charge a fee for withdrawal which varies but the SBI charges Rs 10 plus GST for a transaction from its ATM and Rs 20 plus GST from other bank ATM).
India has fewest ATMs per 100,000 people among BRICS nations, according to International Monetary Fund while its number shrunk in the past two years due to rising maintenance cost despite a rise in transactions as per RBI data. This categorically proves that damaging any ATM would have direct bearing on the state economy. The sooner it is realized, the better it is.