Next, ATMs may pinch your pocket

November 25, 2013 03:18 am | Updated November 16, 2021 07:55 pm IST - BANGALORE

With guards, cameras and alarms getting into ATM kiosks, will we next be paying our banks more for our card swipes?

Some of the senior bank officials that The Hindu spoke with indicated as much.

Placing additional security measures as directed by the Karnataka Government would definitely push up banks’ expenditure, was the obvious and unanimous concurrence.

One bank said it spends Rs. 60-70 crore a year on security personnel. With the bill rising this year, it was highly likely to get charged to the customer eventually.

While ATMs in general save banks up to 30 per cent on staff time and cost, deploying guards was going to eat into the employee or HR (human resource) cost in their balance sheets, said one official. Some treated the security service bill as sundry expense, some as an HR item.

New element

“Ex-service personnel [who normally form the ATM security band] are costly and so are outsourced security personnel. Definitely we have to start think of having a separate security element in our budget from next year,” said one public sector bank official.

“This incident has been an eye-opener. We may not immediately start charging our customers extra but it looks highly possible,” said another.

A security guard working an eight-hour shift costs Rs. 10,000-13,000 or as negotiated with the service provider. Compute this for three guards a day for a bank with 100 ATMs, said a third official.

ATM costs are charged as financial (cash withdrawal) and non-financial (verifying balance or changing PIN, etc).Some charge a lump sum annual fee of Rs. 60-100 per account holder. Currently financial charge is fixed at Rs 15 and non-financial Rs. 5. This may be re-worked.

MoUs & white labels

Some banks hire a single licensed service provider to do all their ATM-related tasks - from security and cash replenishment to plant and machinery installation and maintenance; while they bear the rental and electricity themselves. Whether the MoU or agreement with the service provider will be revised for the extra cost must be seen, the official said.

Reserve Bank has started allowing third parties to run `white-label’ ATMs – those that are unbranded and used by multiple brands. Two have started operating in the North. This trend could catch up wide and fast, the official said.

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