TRIPURAINFO

A threat to cashless economy

Sanjib Deb

The official name of the machine is Automatic Teller Machine but popularly the abbreviation of ATM has been changed by commoners as All Time Money. Initially the people who were fed up with long queue in banks for withdrawal of money considered it as a blessings but it turned out to be a curse for a large number of consumers in the state for last several days. It caused such a panic that people are afraid of approaching ATMs for collecting money. The bank authorities are also seem to be puzzled and finding no way to give any direction to the consumers. Many cases have been filed with the police who are also roaming in dark and as a precaution issued an advisory to the subscriber to change the pin code or block their accounts as early as possible.

The development not only deprived the people from the blessings of All Time Money but also threatening the success of the Prime Minister's dream of cashless economy. Because the system of paying money through Point of Sell machines kept in various shops and outlets also become a centre of suspicion. The ATM card and the PIN codes issued by the banks with assurance of guaranteed security also appears to become useless. Not only the man handling the Point of Sell machine but the technology itself has lost the peoples' faith. Police have arrested two Turkish and two Bangladeshi citizens who were responsible for the entire operation. It may be a success on the part of the police but how far it will help restoring peoples' confidence still a doubt. 

The last two days experience says people are extremely panicked and almost totally deserted the ATM counters. They are also refuge to pay money through Point of Sell Machines. Instead they are paying in cash. If the panic caused among the people could not be eliminated within a short spell the new situation may become disastrous for the economy. Impact of the incidents happened in Agartala, Guwahati, Kolkata and Mumbai may not remain confined in these four cities and may spread in other place of the country too. Even if this fraud is not, the panic caused is definitely will spread in other places.
If it is the fault of the technology or human error or negligence is responsible should be investigated. But the primary task is to ensure that no other consumer fell in the trap of the fraud stars. It is good that the cyber cell of the state police has issued an advisory about certain ATMs but they must ensure that hackers have not ventured out in other ATMs too.

The State Bank of India has assured people that the hacked money will be returned but it is not enough. What is immediate necessary is ensure a secured system of transaction. As the panicked people has stopped visiting ATMs there is a threat of severe shortage of cash in the market. The fear itself is reminding the days after the demonetization. If the panic caused in Tripura spreads in other parts of the country such a situation can’t be ruled out. So the central government also should take care. Immediate steps must be taken so that people can withdraw the money they need for their day to day activities without any hassle.  



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