Adapting to Demonetization and A Quest to Find Atm with Cash

In late November, you may have read my earlier post  about the Govt’s move to ban 500 and 1000 Rs notes and how I managed to survive the crisis personally by using digital wallets, online payment services and debit cards to pay for things.

Demonetisation of Zimbabwe

This radical move is not new and in fact Demonetization in Zimbabwe happened much earlier (in 2015), though for a completely different reason. When the country of Zimbabwe faced an insane amount of inflation due to various economic factors(4 billion percent to be exact), currency note values went from hundreds to thousands to millions, to billion to trillion and even quadrillion , basically worthless. In fact 250 quadrillion Zimbabwe dollars was equal to 0.4 USD (Roughly Rs.30) and the government decided to end this and start trading in dollars for time being and a year later slowly rolled out the ZWD in phases in a stabilized manner.

In India, with a population of 80 times that of Zimbabwe, such transitions can’t be easy.  A preparation for a move this big should have been done by estimating national level withdrawals, currency needs per person, max amount of money an ATM can hold, no of ATM’s in all cities, max capacity of printing of 100,new 500 and Rs.2000 notes to fulfil an entire nation’s demand continuously for a min period of 3 months (until money starts rotating). Yet the shortage of money in banks, closure of 90% of ATM’s seem to indicate a panic mode had caused an urge to withdraw money even if there wasn’t an need. This indirectly led to shortage of currency everywhere.

Over a month after Demonetization

Roughly after 25 days later, the situation seems to be exactly the way I had predicted. Though the nation is being pushed towards a cashless Economy, the overall health of the economy is pretty much on a downward spiral.  Small vendors, hotels and other people in service business felt major cash crunch. Manufacturing towns faced max impact with almost no orders or not enough cash to give salaries.  Though wallet companies are putting up large scale ads saying how easy it is for vendors to go digital and success stories of vegetable vendors accepting PayTM or Freecharge, you know the ground reality is far from it. Even autos and cabs that have prepaid wallet options refuse to accept rides unless you choose the cash option.  So I hoped the situation in high-end supermarkets may be completely different, as you can simply swipe your debit/credit card in the counter.

I was wrong. Even there, one is faced with large sign boards that read:
•    Min card transaction amount is Rs.500
•    Old Notes of 500/1000 not accepted
•    Rs.2000 notes accepted only if bill amount is greater than 2000
I’m not talking about small kirana stores but big supermarkets such as WhiteRose Supermarket, Aditya Birla More and even Nilgiris that sports similar boards as above.

So what actually went right for the government?

The actual black money hoarders either burnt all the money or stopped midway in doing any kind of financial transaction and thereby force illegal/unaccounted black money transactions to a standstill. No one however went to the bank to deposit all their money as they know it’s a sure-fire way to get caught. They however recovered some considerable amounts through IT Raids.

My Journey to Find ATM with Cash

So in the last 20 days I tried to visit ATM’s and my bank for five times and this is what happened

  • First time I tried, all ATM’s in my entire neighbourhood were closed.
  • Second time, the queue was more than 15 people and I simply gave up.
  • Third time, on the pretext of being smart, I found an ATM in a shady street and entered Rs.1900 as amount. The ATM said: you can enter only 2000 as amount. So I entered 2000 as amount and I got 1 note and my day’s withdrawl quota was already over.
  • Fourth time, I stood in queue in an ATM which happened to have 500 Rs notes. Even midway during the queue, the ATM threw a “No Money” error.
  • Fifth time, I went to the HDFC Branch in my area. I stood in queue for 45 minutes to withdraw using my cheque book for 20,000 Rs. All I got was 9 “2000” Rs notes and 20rs bundle for the remaining 2000(though I happened to spend all of it in roughly 3 days).

Apps to Find Working ATM

On a positive note, several apps have been developed (not by Govt but by fellow citizens) to help find ATM’s with Cash. One such app/website is Money View App. The Money View app provides information about closest Big Bazaars, Petrol pumps and Inox multiplexes where you can get cash (Definitely the need of the house, quite literally). They seem to have gathered info from a 5 million people userbase (50Lakhs) and their live fedback enables the App to provide updated information. You can actually get a working ATM with cash (updated up to 3hours before) which is really amazing.

Download Money View App by clicking the link or you can also find out closest ATM with cash on desktop by clicking this link. In case you have questions, you can reach out to MoneyView’s social channels here :  FB, Twitter, Blog.

I just happend to check for my street and spotted a working ATM which is only half a km away.Let’s hope I get some cash atleast this time 🙂

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