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