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Bangladesh and India Experience Growth in ATMs and CRMs

Categories : Cash is the first step of financial inclusion, CashTech, Innovation contributes to the efficiency of cash
April 10, 2021
Published in : ATMs, Bangladesh, CDMs, CRMs, India, interoperability
The ATM networks of Bangladesh and India have expanded during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Bangladesh, ATM transactions increased in 2020; in India, currency holdings in the public’s hands grew 17.4% during the pandemic.
Manuel A. Bautista-González

Columbia University in the City of New York

Bangladesh: Cash-recycling ATMs Deployed and ATM Transactions Value Increase during Pandemic

To reduce the overcrowding of bank branches for cash deposits and withdrawals during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladeshi banks opted to increase the number of cash recycling machines (CRMs). In March 2020, Bangladesh had 266 CRMs ; by November of last year, the number had gone up to 684.

CRMs are ATMs offering cash withdrawals and deposits. They validate, count, and authenticate the deposited notes, and the amount is credited to the users’ accounts. The device withholds notes unfit for circulation. CRMs cost more than regular ATMs, but they can achieve cost savings as they require less frequent replenishments than ATMs which only offer cash withdrawals. CRMs reduce cash management costs, as cash deposits are also used for withdrawal transactions.

According to transaction data from the Bangladeshi National Payment Switch network, ATM transactions declined 1.26%, going from 2.13 million transactions in March 2020 to 2.1 million in September 2020. The value of ATM transactions grew 4.93%, from 16.401 billion of Bangladeshi taka (Tk, equivalent to US$194.75 million) in March 2020 to Tk17.252 billion (US$204.86 million) in September 2020. Average transaction amounts increased more than ATM transactions value, with a 6.5% increase, going from Tk7,695.77 (US$91.39) in March 2020 to Tk8,197.09 (US$ 97.34) in September 2020.

India: White Label ATMs Expand and Currency Holdings Increase during Pandemic Year

CRMs have also become very popular in India. The Reserve Bank of India (the country’s central bank) subsidised the installation of both CRMs and ATMs until 2018 as part of its financial inclusion policies. Between 2012 and 2020, ATMs in India grew at an average annual rate of 10%. As of January 2021, Indian banks had deployed 209,344 ATMs and 373,412 micro-ATMs (ATMs without cash storage or dispensation facilities).

Banks and fintech firms have launched innovative solutions to preserve the Indian public’s access to cash during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the mobile ATM service of Indian Bank in Chennai, free-of-charge cashbacks from payments app PhonePe. More recently, Hitachi Payment Services deployed 1,000 new white label ATMs since October 2020. Hitachi Payment is a non-banking ATM operator who has long been a leader in India’s cash infrastructure space.

Indian banks have also introduced an Interoperable Cash Deposit (ICD), which enables cardholders to use a CRM or Cash Deposit Machine (CDM) of participating member banks to credit their accounts or a third-party account. The National Payments Corporation of India operates the ICD solution. Banks have deployed more than 30,000 CRMs and CDMs with interoperable capabilities.

During the fiscal year 2019-2020, the value of cash in circulation in India increased 14.7%.

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