Scores of men and women converge at RBI Saifabad branch for coin change
Trading in coin change runs into lakhs of rupees each day
Small traders hard hit by shortage of coin change
HYDERABAD: Bhajju Singh (name changed) bargains hard with two women sitting before him. Between them, they have a large sack containing hundreds of plastic covers filled with coin change of Re.1, Rs.2 and Rs.5.
“I distributed currency worth Rs.40,000 for exchange. By mistake, they gave this woman Rs.2,000 more and now she wants commission for the additional amount,” sneers Mr.Singh.
The ‘they’ in his words refers to the RBI’s regional branch at Saifabad. Scores of men and women such as the one sitting before Mr.Singh go there regularly to obtain coin change for which they get three to six per cent commission.
Each person is given coin change worth only Rs.900, says Mr.Singh. However, nobody is satisfied with a single trip. They wait for the officials to forget their face and join the serpentine queue within the RBI complex once again.
Many like Bhajju may be spotted on the footpath alongside the Reserve Bank, trading feverishly in coin change. The trading runs into lakhs of rupees each day, earning fortunes for the people operating from the top rung of the chain who would not mind throwing crumbs to those actually entering the premises. They even go to the extent of creating fake letterheads and identity proofs.
All would have been well had there not been severe shortage of coins in the city. The situation especially worries the business community who are paying commission ranging between 10 and 20 per cent.
Small traders hit
“It may be viable for huge malls and supermarkets to buy coin change because their requirement would be huge. Not for small traders like us. Previously we would get change in rotation and never stepped inside RBI. Now it has become very difficult,” laments Eemani Anjaneyulu of Sudha Book Stores in Ashok Nagar. Even temples are selling coins, he alleges.
“We are turning away customers if they don’t have coin change. Sometimes, I get change from Monda Market by paying 10 per cent commission,” Lalchand Kothari, owner of Ashok Stores says.
Some other stores offer chocolates or blades to customers instead of change. Once such accumulation reaches the value of Rs.10 or its denomination, they buy them back from the customers.
“Previously, we would get change from commercial bank branches. Now they too are turning away people needing coin change,” Saibabu, owner of Saikrishna Supermarket in Khairatabad says. Many yield to coin traders to avoid standing in queue.
However, Reserve Bank officials deny any scarcity in coins. Chests of coin change are regularly despatched to select scheduled commercial banks from where people may obtain them, said a senior official.
Coin change would be given only after the credentials of the persons are verified, another pointed out.
Another reason for the vanishing coin change, many fear, could be illegal melting of the coins to be converted into blades and pins.