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Coin problem hits depositors in several states

Banks across the country have begun refusing to accept coins, saying they have to dedicate a lot of human resource in the cumbersome process of counting them in the absence of sufficient machines to do so.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2018 07:59 IST
Coin,depositor,Bank
The refusal has begun hurting small businessmen, vendors, temple trusts, etc. that deal with a high volume of coins that have now begun to pile up.(Picture for representation)

Banks across the country have begun refusing to accept coins, saying they have to dedicate a lot of human resource in the cumbersome process of counting them in the absence of sufficient machines to do so. The refusal has begun hurting small businessmen, vendors, temple trusts, etc. that deal with a high volume of coins that have now begun to pile up.

Ranchi’s Pahadi Temple is struggling with coins worth Rs 4.5 lakh that have accumulated over the last few months. “Banks say they have no space to keep such a huge amount of coins. We are contacting traders and disposing of Rs 5 and Rs 10 coins. But there are no takers for Rs 1 and Rs 2 coins,” said Pahadi Temple deputy treasurer Nitesh Lohiya.

Raj Kumar Joshi, a priest at Jaipur’s Shani Mandir, echoed Lohiya. He said banks have been refusing to accept coins for the last six month. “Earlier, I would deposit coins worth Rs 7,000 monthly. Since banks stopped accepting coins, I have to give them to local vendors,” said Joshi.

HT Media Ltd, the flagship company that owns Hindustan and the Hindustan Times, is saddled with coins worth Rs 38 lakh received from newspaper agents and vendors. “We have accounts in commercial and private banks. But we have been able to get rid of only Rs 4 lakh out of Rs 42 lakh…,” said an HT media finance officer.

Banks are reluctant to accept coins despite the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s directions to them to do so. “Many banks are not accepting coins as they either do not have machines to count the coins or the machines are not functional. Also, counting of the coins consumes considerable time. Being understaffed, banks generally avoid accepting coins,” said a Bhopal-based bank official on condition of anonymity.

Some banks also cite the lack of space for the refusal to accept coins. Others blame the account holders too. “Banks receive coins but customers would never accept coins from the banks. In such situation, every bank has become overstocked with coins,” said State Bank of India Staff Association president Rajesh Tripathy.

Federation of the West Bengal Trade Association chairman Mahesh Singhania said the problem is more acute in smaller towns. “More or less all banks, nationalised, private or foreign, are guilty. However, the reluctance is more in case of the private sector and foreign banks,” said Singhania.

A bank manager blamed the RBI, saying its currency chests are filled up with coins. “As a result, the coins keep lying in banks. The more coins we deposit, the less storage we get for the currency notes.”

Coins come in only four denominations. But they come in different sizes for the same denominations. “If customers come with sorted coins of different denominations, we will accept them,” said a banker in Patna. Bhopal-based street vendor, Vishwanath Dubey, said he had to call police when a businessman refused to accept coins from him because of the refusal of the banks to accept them. “But how many times can I call the police?” he asked.

Chandigarh-based grocer Radhay Lal said most of them now exchange coins with the religious institutions. “Most religious institutions have got priority accounts, which allow them to deposit collections,” said an official at Chandigarh’s ISKCON temple. Many small business owners in Punjab have stopped accepting coins from customers completely. “We have stopped accepting coins from our customers as the banks do not accept coins from us,” said Atul Kumar, who runs a confectionary shop in Punjab’s Bhikhiwind.

(With HTC in Chandigarh, Bhopal, Ranchi, Rohtak, Jaipur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Jammu and Patna)

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 23:49 IST