Talks needed to stop closure of half of India's ATMs: Largest supplier firm

Industry says recent regulatory changes will make ATM operations unviable, resulting in closures

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Largest ATM supplier NCR on Thursday called for multi-stakeholder talks like the ones carried out during the demonetisation days to resolve the problems being faced by the cash vending machines industry now.  

The industry body, Confederation of ATM Industry (Catmi), had on Wednesday warned that nearly half of the 238,000 machines closing down due to regulatory changes making the business, which saw a reduction in the number of new ATMs installations this year, unviable.  

"There is a need for the banks, managed service providers (MSPs) and the regulators to discuss and resolve the issues, just like we had done during demonetisation," NCR managing director Navroze Dastur told PTI here.

Dastur said there can be a working group or a committee to sort out issues.

It is the MSPs and white-label ATM operators which are the most impacted as the costs have gone up without a corresponding increase in revenues as most of their contracts are linked per transaction, he explained.

Typically, ATMs next to branches are installed and managed by the banks themselves, while the "offsite" ones are done by the MSPs, he said.

NCR also has a MSP vertical and takes care of 25,000 ATMs, he said, affirming commitment to continue with it.

He warned that cash is back in the system and ATMs and cash worth over 26 per cent of GDP is routed through the ATM network at present.

"We cannot afford any disruption in ATMs," he said.

Dastur said there has been a reduction in the number of new ATMs installed this year, and pointed out that the demand for replacements is keeping suppliers like it busy.

Up to 12,000 new machines will be installed in 2018, said Dastur, whose company has a 50 per cent market share in the segment.

The Catmi had warned that closure of the ATMs will impact thousands of jobs and also the financial inclusion efforts of government, the industry body said in a statement.

A majority ATMs which can be shut down will be in the non-urban areas, it said, underlining that this can impact the financial inclusion efforts as beneficiaries use the machines to withdraw government subsidies.

The industry body said that recent regulatory changes, including those on hardware and software upgrades, coupled with mandates on cash management standards and the cassette swap method of loading cash, will make ATM operations unviable, resulting in the closure. 

It is estimated that new cash logistics and cassette swap method will alone result in costs of Rs 30 billion for the industry.