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 Indian pizzas in San Francisco to bhangra competitions in Boston

A guide to the Indian heart of these American cities.

The United States of America has for long been more than a tourist destination for Indians. With Indians making up the second largest immigrant group in the USA, North American cities have a lot to offer to the travel weary Indian tourist. There are umpteen reasons for an Indian to visit vibrant education and cultural hubs like Boston and San Francisco. But if you don’t have a well-adjusted cousin to guide you through the well-kept Indian secrets, this guide to the Indian heart of Boston and San Francisco should suffice for when you crave your fix.

Boston

If you aren’t easily spooked, Boston is the best place to be at in October due to its proximity to Salem. You can visit the Salem Witch Village to learn about present-day wiccans and authentic witchcraft, or attend séances and Halloween parades with ghosts, ghouls and other frightening creatures giving you a true glimpse of America during Halloween. But the macabre spirit soon gives way to a dazzling array of Christmas lighting for the next two months. The famed big Christmas trees are accompanied by festive celebrations and traditions. Don’t miss The Nutcracker, the sugar-laced Christmas adventure.

While it upholds its traditions, Boston is a highly inclusive and experimental university town. It welcomes scores of Indian students every year. Its inclusiveness can be gauged from the fact that Berklee College of Music released a well-received cover of AR Rahman’s Jiya Jale. The group, called the Berklee Indian Ensemble, creates compositions inspired by Indian musical styles like the Carnatic thillana and qawwali.

Boston’s Bollywood craze is quite widespread beyond the campuses too. Apple Cinemas in Cambridge and Regal Fenway Cinemas in Fenway can be your weekly fix as they screen all the major upcoming Bollywood movies. Boston tends to be the fighting ground for South Asian Showdowns in which teams from all over the North-Eastern coast gather for Bollywood-themed dance offs. The Bhangra competitions, especially, are held with the same energy and vigour as back home and are open to locals and tourists alike. If nothing else, there are always Bollywood flash mob projects you can take part in to feel proudly desi in a foreign land.

While travellers love to experiment with food, most Indian travellers will agree that they need their spice fix in the middle of any foreign trip. In that respect, Boston has enough to satisfy cravings for Indian food. North Indian cuisine is popular and widely available, but delicious South Indian fare can also be found at Udupi Bhavan. At Punjab Palace, you can dig into a typical North Indian meal while catching a Bollywood flick on one of their TVs. Head to Barbecue International for cross-continental fusion experiments, like fire-roasted Punjabi-style wings with mint and chilli sauce.

Boston is prominent on the radar of Indian parents scouting for universities abroad and the admission season especially sees a lot of prospective students and parents looking for campus tours and visits. To plan your visit, click here.

San Francisco

San Francisco is an art lover’s delight. The admission-free Trolley Dances, performed in October, focus on engaging with the communities via site-specific choreographies that reflect the city’s cultural diversity. Literature lovers can experience a Dickensian Christmas and a Victorian holiday party at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, a month-long gala affair starting in November.

As an Indian, you’ll be spoilt for choice in San Francisco, especially with regards to food. San Francisco’s sizeable Indian population, for example, has several aces hidden up its sleeve. Take this video by Eater, which claims that the ‘Indian’ pizza at Zante’s Restaurant is the city’s best kept secret that needs outing. Desi citizens of San Francisco are big on culinary innovation, as is evident from the popularity of the food truck Curry Up Now. With a vibrant menu featuring Itsy Bitsy Naan Bits and Bunty Burrito and more, it’s not hard to see why it is a favourite among locals. Sunnyvale, with its large concentration of Indians also has quirky food on offer. If you wish to sample Veer Zaara Pizza, Dabangg Pizza or Agneepath Pizza, head to Tasty Subs & Pizza.

There are several Indian temples in Sunnyvale, Fremont and San Jose that also act as effective community spaces for gatherings. Apart from cultural events, they even hold free-for-all feasts that you can attend. A little-known haven of peace is the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. Their Anjaneya World Cafe serves delicious mango lassi; the beverage is a big hit among the local population.

If you’re looking for an Indian movie fix during your travels, the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival’s theme this year is Bollywood and Beyond. Indian film enthusiasts are in for a treat with indie projects, art-house classics, documentaries and other notable films from the subcontinent being screened.

San Francisco’s autumn has been described as ‘Indian summer’ by the locals and is another good season to consider while planning a trip. The weather lends more vigour to an already vibrant cultural scene. To plan your trip, click here.

An Indian traveller is indeed spoilt for choice in Boston and San Francisco as an Indian fix is usually available just around the corner. Offering connectivity to both these cities, Lufthansa too provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its India-bound flights and flights departing from India. You 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 internalized 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.