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Monday, September 3, 2012

'Cash retract' feature in ATMs withdrawn by RBI


Sure you withdraw money using your ATM card – did you care to notice the warning printed on the cards [infact the warning flashes  on the ATM screen also]


Now there is buzz of withdrawal of ' Cash retract' feature – quoting Reserve Bank of India guidelines.  The notification in the Bank’s website reads that ‘we have taken out the ‘Cash Retraction’ facility from our ATM’s machines. Do not forget to collect your cash as the cash will not be retracted in the ATM machine and will remain in the mouth of the ATM till the time the cash is not collected. It is advised to the customers that they should collect their cash as soon as it is dispensed, otherwise someone else might take it.’  - an official word that ‘cash might be taken out by somebody else ! sounds …… something like Police putting up a board of ‘theft prone area and goods left would be stolen’.

When we were getting our Salaries in PSUs – salary used to be disbursed in cash on the penultimate day.  The Accounts Section would become too busy with sub-staff going to bank, collecting cash – a group of people sitting together to prepare the salary cover, putting in cash of various denominations; some favoured with new notes ! [not to speak of some employees, who would prepare their salary cover,  showing a lower amount than what they got – to hoodwink their spouses and keep some personal money !!!!] – in those days, those who took salary by cheque used to get 3 days in advance [there was a condition that an individual should not be maintaining an account with the bank on which Office was issuing salary cheque]

Gone are those days – with the introduction of ‘salary accounts’ – and salary getting credited to the account – denying you the pleasure of receiving the hard currency on hand !.......... one could just walk to an ATM [Automated Teller Machine] and withdraw cash at any time 24 X7  - but you started getting your withdrawal in Rs.500/- and in Rs.1000/- and hence ‘change’ becoming perennial problem.  

The ubiquitous ATM is everywhere – on every street, inside malls and shopping complexes, petrol bunks and more – still you find a long impatient queue at times. At ATM, you are identified by the plastic card issued by your bank, which has  a unique card number and some security information such as an expiration date or CVVC (CVV). Authentication is provided by the customer entering a personal identification number (PIN).  It is a boon as you need not carry large amounts of cash – but the disadvantage is you will be able to withdraw less than Rs.10000/- though you would have more in your SB Account and your Bank might permit a much higher withdrawal.   This is because individual  banks set limit for cash withdrawal by customers. The cash withdrawal limit for use at the ATM of the issuing bank is set by the bank during the issuance of the card.  For cash withdrawals at other bank ATMs, banks have decided to maintain a limit of Rs 10,000/- per transaction.  That could be frustrating as you know that on day 1, your monthly outgo is 3 times or more of the limit.

Technology is ever improving and BBC reports that customers of  Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) or NatWest mobile banking app can now request cash, up to £100, via their smartphone- without using their ATM card !.  They are given a six-digit code to enter into an ATM to release the cash. The services are the latest developments in a long-predicted move towards the smartphone becoming a digital wallet.  This could help  customers who had forgotten their bank cards, or who wished to send cash to family members in a hurry. At present, customers using a card can withdraw up to £300. Initially the limit on the cardless withdrawal will be £100.  Access to the app requires a password, and the withdrawal code will be hidden until the user taps the screen. This is aimed at preventing thieves from looking over the user's shoulder to steal the code.  This could also be a boon to those  whose card had been stolen, and help  to access emergency cash from an ATM.

That is in UK and back at home, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to disable their cash retraction facility at ATMs.  When you use your card at an ATM to withdraw cash, you usually get a few seconds to a little over a minute to collect the currency notes. This time-window varies from bank to bank. For some reason (if you are distracted; thanks to a call on your mobile or any other reason) if you are unable to collect your money within that time duration, the ATM swallows the cash and keeps  it in a separate tray in the machine. The amount is re-credited to your account after a while.  The Reserve Bank of India  has now instructed banks to disable their cash retraction facility at ATMs.

Following this, from now on,  if you fail to collect the cash, the ATM won’t (retract) eat it up. Instead, the money will remain at the mouth of the ATM – which  means, for some reason, if you forget to collect the cash,  someone else might be able to take it.   You need not be in hurry to take the cash as it would remain till you take it – but if you forget [why and how would one !], it is ‘anybody’s cash’.  

Banks have posted messages on their websites that the system has been disabled. The step has been taken to prevent the misuse of the system as RBI has received complaints about people trying to defraud banks by holding on to some withdrawn currency notes in ATMs and then claiming non-receipt of cash after the machine takes back the rest.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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