Bringing primary banking services to the under-served and under-banked parts of the country, Multilink India has launched a series of ‘micro-ATMs’ (m-ATMs) in Northeast India.
“The topography of India’s Northeast states is traditionally deprived of elemental banking services, mainly ATM facilities, for long. Further, the hilly terrain often strains the connectivity, leading to inconsistent and incomplete banking transactions,” the company said.
The m-ATMs, a mini version of the large ATMs, can be deployed in rural areas from where people travel long distances just to access the nearest ATM or a bank. The handheld machines can be set up at local grocery shops and use the same cash box of these shops, keeping the cash flow consistent and available at all times.
As per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, there are only 6,183 ATMs available for 1.35 crore operative debit cardholders in the Northeast region.
Beyond the convenience, m-ATMs can also be an ideal backup and a pivotal resource for enabling essential cash transactions when the bigger ATMs run dry. They can be easily paired with a mobile or laptop for instant delivery of cash through retail shops.
Multilink has already deployed around 1100 m-ATMs in the Northeast region during a pilot program and plans to increase it to about 6,000-7,000 by March 2022. The company is witnessing a growing demand for m-ATMs from the last mile as large parts of the country continue to be a cash-driven economy.
“We believe that Multilink m-ATMs will help bridge this critical gap and make banking accessible and effective for the people of Northeast India by allowing them to carry out real-time financial transactions without any hindrance. Further, m-ATMs are more viable than conventional ATMs due to low infrastructure cost and operational efficiency through normal mobile connectivity,” said Chirag Shah, managing director at Multilink India
Multilink’s m-ATMs for Assam Tea Gardens.
Initially, Multilink India rolled out m-ATMs in Assam to cater to the needs of tea garden labourers. These workers face a huge problem withdrawing their monthly expenses due to the unavailability of ATMs or banks nearby.
Assam has more than 841 registered tea gardens with 10+ lakh laborers. These labourers get wages per day plus other government support which is directly credited to their saving accounts. So, to curve down the demand for banking services, Multilink has decided to deploy m-ATMs in major tea garden areas of the state.
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