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Regulators, government need to support ATMs for financial inclusion: PwC

Despite the government’s push for of a cashless economy, Automatic teller machines (ATMs) remain a significant part of India’s drive for financial inclusion and as such need the Reserve Bank of India’s support to stay relevant, the Economic Times said citing a report from the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said. According to the report, digital payments haven’t kept pace with the requirement for financial services in remote areas.  Consequently, if there is a shortage of ATMs in the said areas, it could have a profound impact on the economy, Vivek Iyer, partner for financial services at PwC, told ET. Iyer said that if there is an absence of both, digital payment networks and ATMs, especially in rural areas, there is probability that people may prefer to hoard hard cash instead. “The ATM industry requires strong support from the (Reserve Bank of India) so that innovation can help bring the (operating) cost down and encourage banks to keep deploying ATMs,” Iyer said. According to Iyer, the cost of setting up and running ATM infrastructure is around 50% higher than the cost running a digital infrastructure. As such, banks will prefer to move towards the digital ecosystems, he said. To maintain a balance between the Digital and ATMs, there is a need to open up regulatory sandboxes for ATMs to allow manufacturers to collaborate with financial-technology startups, he added. Transactions at ATMs have dropped 0.76% month-on-month since demonetisation in November 2016, and the amount of cash withdrawn has fallen 3.3% per month since then, PwC…

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