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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Some ATMs may soon be closed at night for security

Mahua Venkatesh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 23, 2014
First Published: 21:22 IST(23/1/2014) | Last Updated: 09:11 IST(24/1/2014)

Your bank may soon decide to close some ATMs at night for your security, according to senior executives in public and private sector banks.

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Following the gruesome attack on a woman customer at an ATM in Bangalore in November, which shocked the country, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), which counts almost every bank in India as its members, is looking at ways to ensure security at these points.

In November, the finance ministry had also written to banks individually to step up security at ATMs. It has also directed public sector banks to significantly increase the number of ATMs for the convenience of customers.

Criticising the proposal, which is sure to inconvenience customers, consumer activist Pushpa Girimaji said: “The idea of having ATMs is to facilitate anytime money and convenience. Banks need to devise ways to provide security to customers.”

The problem
At present, there are about 1,15,000 ATMS across the country. but not enough armed guards to man them.

The proposal to shut some ATMs is under serious discussion. None of the banks HT spoke to was willing to come on record. After a decision is taken, individual banks will decide on the number and locations of ATMs that would be shut at night.

“Some banks are already doing this unofficially,” said a senior executive at a private sector bank on condition of anonymity. “They put up ‘out of cash’ or ‘out of service’ signs outside their ATMs at night.”

Banks are also considering an alternative proposal – of creating hubs to monitor live CCTV footage from ATMs. But this involves the additional cost of setting up a technological backbone to support such live feeds and may take time to implement.

“The banking system has to come up with a holistic solution as engaging more security guards or shutting down ATMs will not work,” Ashvin Parekh, national leader, global financial services, EY, told Hindustan Times.


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