In a first for the region, the general post office in Sector 17 will on Friday get an automatic teller machine (ATM), bringing 24x7 banking to post office (PO) savings account holders.
Two other such ATMs would next come up in Sector 19 and Industrial Area. The ATM booth at the Sector-17 PO has been set up right next to its main entry gate.
The country’s first such ATM was inaugurated at Chennai last year. In Chandigarh and Punjab combined, 26 such ATMs are to be set up, covering around 8-lakh account holders, according to Hari Mohan, superintendent of post offices (SPO), Chandigarh. Of these, 4 lakh are in the Chandigarh division alone, which includes SAS Nagar and Rupnagar districts.
One of the ATMs is to come up in Rupnagar. Besides, there will be two ATMs each in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar; one each in Patiala, Rajpura, Batala and Sangrur, among others.
Across India, the scheme is to cover over 1.5 lakh post offices. The target by the end of the year is to have 2,800 such ATMs. As for the security of the ATMs, particularly in light of recent robberies and thefts, the officials said the dedicated security staff at post offices would also guard the kiosks as they would be part of the PO buildings and not standalone.
So far, Mohan said, provision to use other banks’ ATM cards is not to be made available, as the PO accounts are not directly governed by the relevant rules of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Nevertheless, the new initiative would cover a huge network of people, especially those from the middle and lower middle classes.
The Union government on December 31, 2014 had issued a notification amending the PO Savings Bank General Rules, making ATM and account statement facilities available at all branches that are on the computerised system.