In light of the spreading disease – COVID-19 – and government orders, banks across the country are working at reduced capacities, providing only essential services.
Only essential basic services allowed:
Effective from Monday, March 23, 2020, only basic essential services like cash deposit and withdrawal, cheque clearances, remittances,, and government transactions are undertaken by the banks. Customers are requested to withdraw cash from ATMs. banks are recommending customers to use mobile and net banking services and only go out if cash is needed and requested customers to withdraw cash from ATMs as for as possible. Finance Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman has announced on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, announced that debit card holders could withdraw money for three months free of any charge. “Debit card holders who withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM can do it free of charge for the next 3 months. Further, there shall not be any minimum balance requirement fee (in bank accounts), the announcement said.
Suspension of non-essential services:
Most of the banks have barred non-essential services like account opening, passbook printing, and note exchange services. It is not possible to take new loans, get project appraisals or rework existing loan terms; everything that does not fall under the gamut of essential services will be suspended until this pandemic dies down. India’s largest bank SBI has requested its customers to leave their request for services in the boxes outside their respective branches. Maximum banks are working with key staff only, as they are allowed to attend work during state-imposed curbs. Several banks have revised their banking times and have suspended non-essential services. Private players such as IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank,, and ICICI Bank will now remain open for just four hours of the day. HDFC Bank has changed its work timings from 10 AM to 2 PM till 31 March 2020.
Selective Bank branches to remain open:
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has asked banks to open only selective branches in areas that have been placed under lockdown across the country in view of the coronavirus pandemic. IBA has asked the CEOs of banks to empower their regional or zonal or circle heads to take appropriate decision in the matter. IBA also asked all banks to prepare Business Continuity Planning (BCP) for uninterrupted availability of banking services through alternate delivery channels for the convenience of the public. The State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) conveners were asked to take concurrence of the regional director of RBI for implementation of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) prepared by them. In this regard, the MD & CEOs of the SLBC convener banks may take the lead in providing guidance to the SLBC convener and member banks in the respective state for effective implementation of the contingency plan.