The Great Indian ATM Quest
[ 5 min read ]
I grimace slightly as I call out to a random stranger on the street. The grimace, partly due to the fact that I am usually someone who goes out of my way so that I don’t have to talk to people – much less strangers.
In acknowledgement, the man looks up from the activity that he’s engaged in, and nods; his large, bushy eyebrows moving up and down like Red from the Angry Birds movie.
‘Any luck?’ I continue unabashed at the matter-of-factness of my questioning. No niceties, no charming smiles, no excuse me’s.
Curling his lips up, the man shakes his head. I can sense his disappointment as much as he can mine.
‘Thanks, man! Hopefully, soon!’ I quickly reply, whilst continuing to walk to my next destination – a little ATM vestibule about 4 kms away, in the hopes of finding some cash to withdraw.
That scene was on Day Eight of Mission: ‘Find ATM with Cash’; a pilgrimage of sorts that almost all of us have been involuntarily going on irrespective of caste, religion, creed, social standing or even political party affiliations. Perhaps, the first time in a long time, all of us in India have experienced what it really means to stand in a queue.
For the uninitiated (and foreign readers), on November 8th 2016, the Indian government decided that it would demonetise two denominations of currency that were supposedly burdening our wallets and purses. In, what initially appeared to be a carefully planned (and well-intended) surgical strike on Black Money, the government decided that ₹500 and ₹1000 notes would no longer be considered legal tender. Instead, they announced the arrival of a super heroine note – the purple-pink ₹2000; sleeker, longer and if rumours are to be believed, with state-of-the-art technology built right into it.
Anyway, long story short – the idea was great, but the implementation was just plain awful. What started as an assurance of ‘minor inconvenience’ for a few days, soon burgeoned into a cash shortage of epic proportions. This was a month ago, and with #Demonetisation rules changing faster than the ones we make up during a game of Monopoly, we’re still not sure when things will get back to normal.
Over the past month, I have paid more visits to various ATMs than I have to all my relatives put together. From queuing up for as long as 4 hours whilst getting unexpected ‘lumbar massages’ from the paunch of various strangers, to sharing a Pizza with 50 others while standing in a queue – you name it, I’ve pretty much done it all. At one point, I’d even started having dreams about standing in long queues at the ATM and then forgetting my pin as soon as I reached the machine.
But here’s the thing. As much as we complain about technology and the way it affects our ‘social interactions’, I must also address one other thing here. When adopted effectively, it can really help simplify your life in more ways than you can imagine. Like, many a time while queuing up at these ATMs, along with several others, I too have found myself wondering how much easier it would be if there was some sort of real-time update that let us know the status of the ATM. I mean, there’s nothing more agonising than queueing up for hours, only to discover that an ATM is not working or it’s out of money. And since a lot of the ATMs that we’ve all probably visited are not in our local vicinity, it would certainly help to know where the nearest functioning ATMs were.
Thankfully, that’s where the Money View App appeared as our Knight in Shining Green armour. I’d already been using the app to help plan and organise our household budgets, and if I’m honest it truly deserves the moniker ‘India’s largest money manager’. For the past year, my wife and I have been going all out to control our spending and save more money for a special holiday that we’ve been planning. And that’s when we tried out Money View, and it has been supremely useful in planning and organising our household budgets.
I recently updated the app, and realised that the Money View app had smartly incorporated the feature that we all desperately needed. Leveraging the strength of its large user base of 5+ million people, the app had introduced a ‘Find ATM with cash’ feature right into the existing interface. Using real-time updates from the users spread across 200+ cities in India, the app can also now show you not just the status of the ATMs in the vicinity, but also the average queue length. And what’s more, it didn’t stop at just mapping ATMs. A new feature, that sets it apart from some of the other apps were that the app was also showing us active banks, petrol pumps, Big Bazaar stores as well as Inox Multiplexes that dispense cash. Considering the amount of time I’ve spent visiting ATMs and banks in my vicinity, this app has truly been a time-saver.
Oh, wait. I’ve got an SMS. Wonder if it’s from the Money View app. No, actually. I’ve just won ₹ 1Cr in a lottery that I had no idea that I’d participated. Maybe I should just reply and ask them to pay it out in ₹100 notes.
After all, change is of the essence today.
PS: So, have you got any ATM tales to share with me? Or have you gone entirely digital?
This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are mine.