A week ahead of the announcement on demonetisation of old Rs 500/1,000 notes, the Reserve Bank had directed banks to recalibrate at least 10 percent or 20,000 ATMs to dispense Rs 100 notes only.
Banks were given 15 days to comply with the directions issued on November 2. However, before the process could be completed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to nation on the evening of November 8 announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would seize to be legal tender from midnight.
The RBI notification said that in keeping with the objectives of Clean Note Policy and to ensure that genuine requirement of members of public for Rs 100 denomination banknotes are met, the banks should increase dispensation of Rs 100 banknotes through ATMs, which are widely used for distribution of banknotes for retail use.
With a view to encourage the banks in that direction, it has been decided to conduct a pilot project wherein 10 percent of the ATMs in the country will be calibrated to dispense Rs 100 banknotes exclusively. You are, therefore, advised to configure/calibrate 10 percent of your ATMs to facilitate this arrangement, said the RBI's direction to heads of all banks.
There are about 2 lakh ATMs in the country. It could not be known immediately how many banks had complied with the directions.
Following demonetisation of the old high denomination notes, there has been rush to exchange the currency at bank branches and post offices. Long queues have been witnessed outside practically all ATMs in the country.
In its November 2 notification, RBI had also pointed out that a review of steps taken by banks for installing ATMs dispensing lower denomination banknotes was conducted and found that very few banks had taken initiatives in setting up ATMs dispensing lower denomination notes including Rs 100 denomination banknotes. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has indicated that recalibration of ATMs for dispensation of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes may take up to three weeks.