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Mahua Venkatesh, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 07, 2013
Vacationing at a remote place and worried about getting cash? Soon you may have an ATM (automatic teller machines) right next door.

All government banks have been asked to open ATMs at all branches by the end of the current fiscal year.  Finance minister P Chidambaram has directed bank chairpersons to monitor the progress of the exercise.

"The government wants banks to aggressively launch ATMs, which would allow cash withdrawal at any hour and the facility would be extended to the remote areas as well," a senior finance ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, told HT. "The move is also in line with the Centre's financial inclusive policy."


The finance ministry would keep a close watch on the progress of the exercise and banks would have to send monthly reports to the department of financial services. The move would also facilitate the beneficiaries of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme, the official said.

Banks have also been asked to open more branches in rural areas and focus on states where penetration is low to expand the scope of the DBT scheme.

More than 8,500,000 new accounts have been opened in 2012-13 to give a push to the programme, said sources in the finance ministry.

Banks have also been directed to expand rapidly, especially in areas where banking penetration is still low. "They have to expand in a manner so that there is at least one bank account for one family," the official added.

According to finance ministry data, the country has 24,66,92,667 households in total, of which about 60% are covered under the banking network.

The Indian Banks' Association (IBA) is already working out a strategy to facilitate branchless banking in villages. Remote villages with a population of just 2,000 could get micro ATM for banking transactions.