India Post steps in to help Madh Islanders facing cash shortage
They provided a door-to-door cash withdrawal service but very few transactions were successful, as most residents didn't have their active mobile numbers linked to their Aadhaar cards, a must to avail the service
India post – a subsidiary of the Ministry of Communications – stepped in to help the residents of Madh Island, after a report in mid-day highlighted their plight regarding cash. They had been plagued by dysfunctional ATMs since the national lockdown was announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But very few transactions were successful, since most residents didn't have their active mobile numbers linked to their Aadhaar cards — which is a must for availing the service.
After reading mid-day's April 26 report, India Post sent a team of three postmen to the area on Monday, to provide door-to-door cash withdrawal services — at no extra charge — via their mobile phones. Using their government-authorised mobile phones, these postmen helped residents withdraw money from their bank accounts and handed the cash to them—provided their bank accounts and active mobile phone numbers were linked to their Aadhaar accounts. Although a handful of residents were able to carry out successful transactions, a majority of residents could not avail the service since either their active phone numbers were not linked to their Aadhaar cards or their bank accounts.
One postman = 1 micro ATM
Speaking to mid-day, Saranya U, senior superintendent of Post Office of Mumbai North Division (under whose jurisdiction Madh Island falls), said that each of the postmen deployed for this service is equipped with government-approved mobile phones that are pre-loaded with the India Post Payment Bank (IPPB), as well as a biometric scan device that can be connected to the mobile phone. "For us, each postman acts like a micro ATM. Using their mobile phones, each of them could enable people to withdraw up to R50,000 from their bank accounts," she said. This limit was extended from R10,000 to R50,000 in the light of the COVID-19 situation.
She explained that a person had to simply run their biometric fingerprint scan through the device connected to the postman's mobile phone (Aadhaar requires thumbprints to cross-confirm). "If a bank account has been linked to the Aadhaar account, then money can be withdrawn from that account. The person's current active mobile number is also required since an OTP will be sent to it. Another step also includes authenticity confirmation from UIDAI," she said.
If all these criteria are fulfilled, people can withdraw money from the comfort of their homes. "However, we were able to distribute only R11,000 in total because most people either don't have their Aadhaar or active mobile numbers linked to their bank accounts. We carried out a total of 25 transactions, but only 4 of them were successful," said Saranya, adding that India Post's door-to-door cash withdrawal service is more popular in rural areas.
'It was easy'
India Post also reached out to Manisha Suryavanshi, a resident who is disabled with polio in a leg, and was mentioned in the mid-day report. "I was surprised to see them. They ran me through the entire process… and I got the amount instantly in my hands. I also received a debit message on my mobile phone…it was easy and we were not charged for the service," she said.
No. of successful transactions
No. of total transactions attempted
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