Dysfunctional ATMs

All banks have reopened after a record four holidays announced on the occasion of Eidul Fitr. Due to poor situation of law and order, most of the people prefer to keep their savings in one or the other bank of their choice. In case of need, they generally depend for withdrawals on ATM cards almost as a matter of habit. From Thursday afternoon to Monday morning, members of civil society – government employees, businessmen and working women – ran from pillar to post to retrieve some money out of their accounts through visa debit cards for present use. However, except for a couple of branches of foreign banks, most of the ATM devices refused to work partly for technical reasons – slow internet link, rush of customers and poor maintenance – but chiefly due to lack of cash. Banking circles privately said that the network of ATMs had been jammed because virtually everyone in City was queuing up outside the ATM kiosks. The flood affected people, beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme and common account holders considered it necessary to have some money in their wallets on the occasion of an important Islamic festival, when every family elder on the sight of a minor felt tempted to reach for his/her purse to offer some Eid money. Housewives fell in need of extra money when the number of random guests far exceeded their estimates or expectations.

Most of the ATM devices simply flashed the dismal text: “Sorry this ATM is not working”. Others that did not display this message accepted the visa cards and churned out the receipts but, alas, without coughing up any cash. The worried card users had no other way out except shout at the gun-wielding, computer-illiterate security guard. It is high time that the State Bank conducted a probe into why the ATM devices developed a collective virus – Statesman