The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday assured people that ATMs would be open as soon as banks get some technological hurdles out of their way, amid reports that the ATMs would take at least two weeks before they begin dispensing Rs 2,000 currency notes.
The current situation has arisen from Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing on November 8 evening that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would not be considered legal tender from midnight that day. In his speech, PM Modi had said that the step had been taken to weed out black money and address the scourge of fake currency, among other things.
The ATMs were expected to open on Friday and dispense currency notes of various denomination, with banks having opened a day earlier and seen large throngs of people waiting restlessly to exchange their currency notes.
However, as ATMs in many places remained closed, the RBI on Friday said in a statement: "There is enough cash available with banks and all arrangements have been made to reach the currency notes all over the country." The statement is meant to reassure people, but the masses are already complaining about the lengthy queues at banks.
RBI calls for patience
Urging for patience, the RBI also said in its statement: "As mentioned in RBI communications, it may take a while for the banks to recalibrate their ATMs; once the ATMs are functional, members of public will be able to withdraw from ATMs up to a maximum of Rs 2,000 per card per day up to November 18, 2016; and after that up to withdraw Rs 4000 per day per card."
The central bank also said: "Several ATMs have started functioning from this [Friday] morning as the banks could complete recalibration of these machines to allow withdrawals up to Rs 2,000 to begin with." It also said: "The Reserve Bank appeals to members of public to be patient and urges them to exchange their old notes at their convenience, any time before December 30, 2016."
Problem with software affecting ATMs
A top RBI official told International Business Times, India, that banks should be given some time to ensure that the ATMs are recalibrated to dispense currency notes of the current dimension, something that could take time, given that the software had to have a number of checks and balances in place before it could be deployed.
The official also said that the RBI was keeping tabs on banks and watching over the process of the recalibration and reopening of the ATMs.