Postal ATMs, which are being installed by the Department of Posts in a phased manner, are becoming a big hit among customers. At present these ATMs are being used for withdrawing money deposited in the postal products. According to figures of the department, more than 1,000 ATMs have become operational all over the country. More than 1.26 lakh ATM-cum-debit cards have been issued to postal account holders so far. The department plans to install more such ATMs in the coming months. “With post office bank accounts I had to stand in a long queue. Now I can walk down to the ATM and withdraw my money at any time,” said Rakesh Kumar Sharma, a government employee, who lives near Gol Dak Khana in Central Delhi.
Department of Posts has a huge network in the country. According to government figures, there are about 34 crore Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) accounts. At present, a customer can withdraw up to Rs 25,000 from the ATM.
However, with the Union Cabinet clearing a proposal for setting up of the Indian Post Payment Bank, these ATMs will start operating as a bank ATM from March 2017. People will be able to withdraw money from any normal bank account. Sources said with 1.54 lakh post offices across India, India Post’s network will become the largest in the world. A senior department official said the postal bank eyes to penetrate rural India. As per plan, 650 payment bank branches will be set up in the first phase, i.e. by September next year. The postal department plans to use 1.7 lakh postmen and other ground postal staff for the job. As many as 1.3 lakh handheld devices will be given to turn them into mobile rural banks. However, the employees are apprehensive of frauds as the network on which these ATMs are being run, are not foolproof. S.K. Mishra Bhartiya, secretary general of Postal Employees Federation (BPEF), said: “There are operational problems. For example, the entire network was down from 23 March to 31 March, which resulted in huge losses to the department. The department will have to hire software and network professionals to make the scheme a success,” added Mishra. In this year’s budget, the government had announced a rollout of ATMs in post offices over the next three years to provide better access to financial services in rural areas.