ATM recalibration starts, more pain ahead

The uphill task to physically recalibrate each and every one of the almost 2.5 lakh automated teller machines (ATM) in the country to enable them to dispense the new Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 denomination currency notes started on Wednesday, signalling customers may have to contend with a longer wait to withdraw cash as banks shut many of the ATMs to complete the recalibration.

The task force for reactivation of ATMs headed by Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor S.S. Mundra, met on Tuesday and instructed banks on how to go about the ATM recalibration process.

According to officials present at the meeting, banks have been asked to recalibrate 12,500 ATMs every day. The ATM maintenance companies have been asked to follow a specific route that has been decided by the task force so that they can cover different banks’ ATMs that are in close vicinity.

While the task of completing the entire process of recalibrating almost 2.5 lakh ATMs may take some time, banks have been told to focus on completing the task in the top 30 cities by the end of this month, the industry officials, who did not wish to be identified, said.

“It makes sense for a bank to wait till the ATM is recalibrated with the new Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 notes, then the machines can service higher number of customers,” said a task force member.

ATMs have been dispensing only Rs.100 notes since the ban on the old series of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 was imposed, and were running out of cash in 2-3 hours.

“The recalibration will happen in two phases. One, at the central switch of a particular bank and two, at the ATM which has to be done physically. ATM maintenance companies have to insert cassettes which are configured according to the thickness of the new series notes,” said the chief executive of a public sector bank.

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