The Great Indian ATM Quest




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.



But a recent update to the app made it almost feel like the makers of the app have been reading our minds. Well, at least the good thoughts 😉

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.



Of course, while the fact still remains that the shortage of cash is no longer just a minor inconvenience for the majority of us and has started affecting our ability to go about our day-to-day business without any hiccups, it is definitely a positive step to see that our entrepreneurs are taking the effort to update their products to help make things easier for us. And of course, a loud shout out to the community of users behind Money View who take the pain to give real-time updates, so that the information remains current and valid.


In the meantime, if you aren’t using it already, do download the free Money View app. Or you can Find ATM with cash even on desktop before heading out.



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.

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  1. Most of the shops in my place are not loaded with card swiping machines. How do the Govt expect people to pay for their purchases. The demonetisation move is a double-edged sword I feel. Even some are of the opinion that it comes with selfish intentions too. I am ignorant of the tacts of the Government, but I wish more and more people are made aware of cashless transactions to save them from the woes.

  2. Ah the pains of demonetization. Good intentions, but terrible implementation. It must be so hard in India right now.

    I personally have forgotten how to use cash. I don’t carry more than 5 Dollars in my wallet at any given point. But I guess it will take a lot of time for India to get to this point (if it is even possible that is), and it will be a long, painful journey.
    Shantala recently put up this awesome post : November Wrap Up – Books and MoviesMy Profile

    1. I don’t mind cashless transactions. But the challenge is that most people are still at a loss at accepting cashless transactions. I recently had to go on a roadtrip and must have gone through at least 10-11 tolls; and only 6-7 of them accepted cards; and these are National Highway tolls.
      So … 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : The Great Indian ATM QuestMy Profile

  3. I haven’t yet gone to the ATM or the bank. The sight of those lines is enough to make me balk. Luckily the husband managed to withdraw some cash – we made do with that to pay the maid etc. I’m lucky to be privileged enough to get by with plastic; I shudder to think what those who can’t are doing. Some of the stories coming out from smaller cities and rural areas are heartbreaking.
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  4. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing. I’m a life coach blogger. Reading blogs is my hobby and I randomly found your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging endeavors. Please keep in touch with me in Google+, +sridharchandrasekaran Twitter @lifecoachbloger

  5. For people in the Metros cashless seems easy, but for people in villages and economies that run self sufficiently cashless seems a far away dream. However this App seems very useful SID, especially for those who need to withdraw on a daily basis. Yesterday I had been to a restaurant with a gleeful look, because I had my credit card.
    However when I went to pay, no network and I had to run to an ATM – with no money.
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  6. Ahh this seems to be helpful. It’s true the implementation could have been better but somehow in our country, this is how even the best of ideas get implemented, I guess. haphazardly and not as well as one would have liked. As for ATM tales, I do have one. I have actually outsourced withdrawing money to the husband. Nearing 100 kgs, it would do him some good to do some physical work even if it involved standing 😉 Anyways, I did stand in a queue at work one day because I was so bored and all the happening gossip seemed to have moved to the queues. Everyday the cash would be filled into the ATMs at 3:30 but on the day I was in the queue, the cash car just didn’t come. You see Murphy has something to do with it. But I did find one unfrequented ATM at work thanks to a security guard. So , there these are my tales 🙂
    Well, we have managed somehow without cash since the only thing we need cash for at the moment is paying the salaries of the maid and cook. Yes, having ATMs at work has helped. Hopefully, all this gets sorted in teh future,

    1. Thanks for sharing your ATM Tale, Naba 🙂
      About the ‘standing counting at calorie burning’ – doesn’t work. Trust me, you just feel all frustrated 🙂
      It’s true – we can go cashless in most places, but to be honest, it’s just this lack of transparency that’s getting to me. Anyway, hopefully 2017 will see better things.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : The Great Indian ATM QuestMy Profile

  7. Oh the money woes! I have stood in many lines and even struck conversations with random people to pass time. And the sad part is we aren’t done yet. This will take more time that we all had anticipated. Ah! lad some these apps are coming up to help people. I just hope that by the time people reach, the app color doesn’t change from green to orange 😀
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  8. You shared a pizza with 50 other people? You are not my friend anymore.

    I stood in an ATM line for an hour once to withdraw 2.5k. That did it for me. I did have Cal for company so it was fun though. After that, the awesome husband that he is, he withdraws and comes for me for the small chores around home. Else, we have 98% gone digital with almost everything.

    P.S: Have you spent that purple note in your wallet yet?
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  9. Wondering when this demonetization woes is going to end. I end up wasting half a day deciding which ATM to go and the other half goes in standing in queues. It’s getting to be painful. Thank God there are apps to ease the pain.

    1. I can imagine…Both change and the ‘lack of IT’.
      When in doubt, i resort to humour as a safer bet. Helps me remain sane and doesn’t insult others as much 😄

  10. oh the trouble continues!! it’s sad that a move as big and important as demonetization is now causing the common population so much inconvenience. It was a great move but very poorly executed. I hope the new year brings an end to your problems.
    The ending cracked me up 😛
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    1. So it does….and it’s only causing so many problems because of the execution and the rules that keep on changing.
      Fingers crossed for a better 2017.
      Glad you were able to find the humour in it 🙂

  11. I haven’t gone to the ATM yet and luckily I wont have to go either. Digital to the rescue. But I do agree, what seemed to be a heroic move in the beginning quickly went from a minor inconvenience to a major problem. And sadly we are not allowed to question it either.
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