Bank ATMs can serve as self-serviced common service centres too.
ATMs are a highly underutilised infrastructure in India. The country as a whole has not been able to fully use these high-cost installations, not to mention the rentals and the AMC that goes into managing these.
One would argue that banks, in India and globally, have adopted the ATM in a big way because of two primary reasons. One, it is a great facility to improve customer service, and two it leads to significant savings for banks in terms of the costs of operations. While servicing a cash transaction at a physical branch would cost a bank Rs 40 in India, it will cost only Rs 18 to handle the transaction through an ATM.
The fact, however, remains that ATMs are cost centres. They don’t earn for their upkeep, whereas branches do, by way of acquiring new customers and lending them money for an interest.
Public sector banks in the country alone have set up 28,039 new ATMs during the last four years 2010—between April 2006 and March with the total number of ATMs crossing the 45,000 mark. Imagine the cost incurred on these facilities, at the rate of Rs 18 per transaction!
Why can’t ATMs be earning too? If the banks can accept mobile or electricity bill payments, what is stopping the government from using ATMs to deliver other citizen services—issuance of certificates, facilitating applications of all kinds, and even providing attested copies of certain documents?
It’s about making a typical ATM serve as a Common Service Centre (CSC).
How? Well, just make unique ID (UID) number or Aadhar mandatory for all bank accounts, and also link it up with educational institutions, hospitals and other citizen services.
With ATMs featuring all kind of authentication and tagging features, it can be just a matter of right policy decision to use these ATMs as self serviced CSCs. And that can really simplify delivery of various citizen services.
Take for example, that you need to apply for a passport. The process could be simple. Once you swipe the ATM card, the machine will prompt for a UID and biometric authentication.
Once authenticated, the screen will display the form already filled up using your existing details from the central database. This will include all basic details such as name, date of birth, parents’ names, education qualifications and address.
If there are some changes to be made, you can do those as well since you have already completed the authentication process.
Next, the machine will ask your permission to debit the related fee from your bank account, after which the process will be completed. Through with the process, you can now expect the delivery of the required document or certificate by e-mail or by post. If the service requires that a document is collected in person, the machine can give you the date and time and the address of the centre. Can we do it?