note demonetisation

Looking for cash? These ATM-finding apps and websites may be of some help

The search for banknotes made easy.

Two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value currency notes, it is clear there is still a crash crunch in the country. In unbanked villages, poor liquidity is bringing economic activities to a slow halt. In cities, citizens are still scrambling to find working ATMs.

News agencies say that at least 70 people have died standing in queues at ATMs and banks while trying to tackle the changes brought in by the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

People queue up outside a bank in Patna. Source: PTI
People queue up outside a bank in Patna. Source: PTI

Amid this chaos, a few websites and apps have stepped up to help Indians find ATMs that still have cash.

Cashnocash.com

Cashnocash.com updates statistics in real time, based on user feedback, to identify ATMs which have cash, ATMs with long queues and those which have gone cash-dry. The crowd-sourced platform, launched by Quikr and Nasscom, promises to help users across India find the nearest ATM, bank or post-office to get insights on cash availability and waiting time in queues. It also offers users a chance to report this information back to the platform, which contributes to real-time updates at each mapped out cash point.

The website uses current location, pin codes and is built on geospatial data. It currently has around 60,000 locations of banks, ATMs and post offices in their database. The website went live on November 14.

When Scroll.in tried to search for ATMs, it, however, came up empty.

Location: 110001
Location: 110001
Location: 110008
Location: 110008

ATM Chatbot

A Tamil Nadu-based startup, Timebender Technologies, has created a chatbot, which allows users to track well-stocked ATMs near them. The Chatbot is available on the Facebook Messenger app.

To access it, search for ATM ChatBot. It will pop up on the screen with a blue robot profile. Type in “Nearest ATM that has cash”. At the bottom of the screen, you will see an option to share your location. The chatbot then gives you two options – you can either feed in the details of an ATM you just visited, or receive information about ATMs near you.

Each ATM location is accompanied by a map with directions to the vestibule, along with data about whether the ATMs are still vending cash, or have run out of money.

Google homepage

Google India has also added a shortcut on their search engine homepage, called “Find an ATM near you”, that lets people locate the nearest ATM. The shortcut takes you to Google Maps, and prompts the user to enter their exact location. Clicking on “Show ATMs” brings up more information, including the Google Maps integration to get to an ATM booth.

CMS ATM finder

The CMS ATM finder app is operated by the CMS group, one of the largest cash management services in India. It updates information when one of their cash vans deposits money in an ATM, which makes the information highly accurate and dependable. But this is also the drawback of the app: since it lists only ATMs serviced by the company, the database is limited.

To access it, the user needs to go to the website, add their location. The website will then let the user know about nearby CMS-powered ATMs.

While searching for Delhi ATMs on November 21, the website read, “Many ATMs are likely to be down today since they are being re-calibrated for the new currency notes.”

Walnut

The Walnut app collects anonymous data from a user’s smartphone every time they withdraw cash from an ATM. The app tracks aggregate ATM withdrawals across India in real time, from over 1.8 million users.

Walnut reads the SMS received from the bank after a cash withdrawal, with details the ATM location and amount withdrawn. Using the ATM withdrawal SMS information, it automatically marks that bank ATM in that location as a working ATM with cash. The app also asks the user if the queue for the ATM was long or short. Based on that answer, it alerts other users.

ATMs with a short queue are denoted by a green pin, a long queue by an orange pin and a no-cash or unknown ATM by a grey pin.

The app is available for download on Android and iOS.

ATM Search

A social media success story, Twitter user @WoCharLog’s ATM search app received so much traffic within hours after its November 13 launch, that the creator had to request Twitter to help him in getting unlimited Google Map API.

“I’m hitting limits even with caching due to traffic,” he tweeted.

The search accumulated 60,000 hits in less than 3 hours. “My VPS is going to crash. Time for some server upgrade,” he tweeted.

The website asks for the user’s location. After the requisite information is entered, it shows ATMs that have cash or no cash, and how long the ATM queue is, along with nearby landmarks. As a crowd-sourced website, ATM Search lets users update the information about existing ATMs in the database, and allows them to add unlisted ATMs by providing basic details, such as bank name, landmark, and crowd status, thus enabling any user to solve the cash crunch issue the public is facing.

Users can search city-wise or for a particular area as shown below.

Location: 110001
Location: 110001

Other platforms such as the Nearby app, ATM locator and ATM finder are also helpful if you are looking for ATMs near you. The only catch is, these don’t provide the user with data if the machine has cash and how long the queues are.

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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.