No cash shortage in ATMs, confirm local bank officials

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"Main banks like SBI, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Central Bank, ICICI, HDFC have confirmed availability of enough cash in their currency chests", an official spokesperson said. Cash in circulation (with banks and public) as on April 06, 2018 was Rs18.4 lakh crore, according to RBI, which is very close to currency in circulation during pre-demonetisation, which was Rs17.97 lakh crore. After reviewing the cash situation and the measures to replenish starved zones for the second time in a week, he tweeted, "Have reviewed the currency situation in the country".

Blaming "unusual demand" for currency shortages in some areas, the government on Tuesday announced it has made a decision to increase printing of Rs 500 notes by five times.

The government is also analysing the demand pattern in the states. The official said that the unofficial communication from the RBI to banks is to refill the ATMs with less cash.

It further said that printing of notes has been ramped up in all the four note presses.

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Images of shuttered ATMs and helpless citizens have been making the rounds on Indian media, reminiscent of the aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's shock announcement in 2016 banning 500- and 1,000-rupee notes. Over all there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the banks.

While it is hard to trace any specific reason for such massive cash withdrawals this year, analysts say that concerns over the health of banking system has also triggered savers to withdraw cash.

"There is no need for concern, wherever there is a deficit, the bank is taking adequate measures", he said adding overall cash in economy is more than demonetisation days. "As a result the re-calibration of the ATMs has not been completed even after three months of introducing it in the system", said Navroz Dastur, managing director, NCR Corporation, India & South Asia, a leading ATM service provider. One possible outcome is that the average cash balance in the wallet has gone up as one who is used to keeping a Rs 1,000 note is now shifting to holding a Rs 2,000 note.

That is a source of worry for policymakers as a sustained heavy currency withdrawal suggests a return of cash hoarding by individuals, diluting the objective of a massive note ban exercise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in late 2016.

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"This may have altered the demand for smaller denomination notes in a larger way to possibly substitute (more transactions) for the currency of larger denominations which are getting less".

The Confederation of ATM Industry (CATMi) on Wednesday asked banks and the regulator to consider a higher interchange rate as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) directive is expected to push up their costs.

"So, in a month, we will be printing about Rs 75,000 crore".

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