Kolkata, May 6, 2018

Cost-cutting measures by banks, which has led to rationalisation of branches has been one of the key reasons for reduction in the number of ATMs

In close to 10 months, between May 2017 and February 2018, 2,000 onsite ATMs of banks were close. As on May 2017, the total number of onsite ATMs of banks was close to 110,116, which came down to 107,630 as on February 2018, or a reduction of 2,486 ATMs, according to data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). However, the number of offsite ATMs saw a marginal increase, led by the State Bank of India (SBI).

Cost-cutting measures by banks, which has led to rationalisation of branches has been one of the key reasons for reduction in the number of ATMs. Most banks closed both onsite and offsite ATMs, expect for a few, which led to an increase in the number of offsite ATMs,

Bank of India saw reduction of 108 onsite and 100 offsite ATMs between May last year and February this year. Canara Bank saw reduction of 189 oniste and 808 offsite ATMs in the same time period. Central Bank of India had a reduction of 27 onsite and 317 offsite ATMs. In the case of Punjab National Bank, there was a reduction of 655 onsite and 467 offsite ATMs, according to the RBI data.

For SBI, while the number of onsite ATMs decreased from 29,150 to 26,505, the number of offsite ATMs increased from 29,917 to 32,680, between May 2017 and February 2018.

Banks are increasingly reducing the cost associated with setting up and maintaining ATMs. Till a few years back, the cost of setting up an ATM would come at around Rs 500,000, now banks have been setting up ATMs for as less as Rs 50,000-60,000, said an executive of a public sector bank. Earlier, on an average an ATM machine would be installed in a space of not little than 100 sq ft. Now, most ATMs are being set up at a space as less as 30-50 sq ft.

“Now banks are not going for ultra low-cost ATMs. So it is just a space and a machine that is installed, and they are doing away with facilities like air-conditioning,” said a bank executive.

Further, in order to reduce the cost, banks are now resorting to methods like e-surveillance, which precludes the cost of stationing a permanent guard at the ATM.

“Through e-surveillance, even with slightest of tampering in the ATMs, automated alarm rings up, and this is also linked to the nearest police station. We are reducing the cost of having a full-time guard inside the ATM,” said a bank executive.

In remote locations, where risk is high, banks are opting for shutting down ATMs at night.

“In high risk areas where 24-hours security is not available, we are opting for shutting down ATMs at night,” according to a banker.  

According to the RBI data, the number of offsite ATMs increased from 98,360 in May last year to about 99,029 in February this year, an addition of 669 ATMs.

[The Business Standard]