With the cash crunch afflicting many ordinary Indians spread across different states, banks have been compelled to take whatever action necessary to alleviate their suffering. The State Bank of India, for example, on Thursday issued a press release announcing that depositors are allowed to withdraw cash from its point of sale machines (PoS) devices available with merchants.
This facility is available for customers of all banks, and for the time being, is restricted to 80% of SBI’s PoS devices around the country.
“SBI has a total of 6.08 lakh PoS machines of which 4.78 lakh PoS machines are enabled to dispense cash to the customers of SBI and the banks who have enabled this facility for their customers,” the release said.
However, the bank will not charge a fee for this facility.
Through its ‘Cash@POS’ initiative, customers can withdraw up to Rs 1,000 per day per card in Tier-1 and 2 cities, while those from Tier-3 to Tier-6 cities, can withdraw Rs 2000 per day, as per RBI guidelines.
According to an SBI report, the current shortfall in currency circulation is at approximately Rs 70,000 crore.
The government has attributed this shortage to a “sudden and unusual increase” in demand for cash, laying rest to the opinion that demonetisation would ensure the dawn of a cashless economy.
As opposed to an average demand of about Rs 20,000 crore a month, “in the first 13 days of April itself there was a demand of Rs 45,000 crore,” said a senior official with the Ministry of Finance.
“We have taken steps to increase the supply of currency in case demand goes up. The currency printing (will increase) from Rs 500 crore to Rs 2,500 crore per day of Rs 500 note. So, in a month, we will be printing about Rs 70,000-75,000 crore. This should assure you that we are geared up to meet the rising demand,” said a senior bureaucrat.