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Govt Rubbishes Rumours of Bank Branches' Closure; Customer Services Points Open, Says DFS Secretary

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The banking industry association made an appeal to customers asking them to avoid visiting branches for non-essential services and make most use of the mobile and online banking channels.

Rubbishing rumours of branch closure, Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda on Friday said bank branches are committed for necessary services during the lockdown and there is no shortage of cash.

The Department of Financial Services requested people not to believe rumours of the closure of customer service bank branches.

"Customer service bank branches are operational & will continue to provide services. Sufficient cash across branches & ATMs! Don't trust rumours of branch closures! Customers requested to stagger arrival at branches etc," Panda said in a tweet.

Later in the day, the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) also denied the rumours and said that about 1,05,988 branches across the country are operational.

With the impact of coronavirus being felt across the country, the aim of IBA and its member banks is to ensure uninterrupted banking services to customers.

"So, be rest assured that we are doing our best and extending all the support you need, in the best possible way we can. We will continue providing banking services to our valued customers, however we appeal to everyone to visit the branch premises only in case of absolute necessity. Our employees are also facing the same challenges that you all are and so, we are asking for your help too," IBA said.

The banking industry association made an appeal to customers asking them to avoid visiting branches for non-essential services and make most use of the mobile and online banking channels.

"We are working round-the-clock to ensure that all our digital channels are up-to-date and have all the information that you may need during this period. In case you may still need assistance, you can call our branches or use the IVR facility through our call centre," it said.

However, banking hour for public has been curtailed till 2 pm rather than 4 pm in the interest of public and staff.

As a measure to serve customers better, IBA said all banks have undertaken the following essential activities from Friday onwards.

The services that can be availed in person at branches would be cash deposits and withdrawals, clearing of cheques, remittances and government transactions.

IBA also clarified that as per the Ministry of Home Affairs' notification, IT vendors for banking operations, banking correspondents, ATM operations and cash management agencies are exempt from the lockdown.

As advised by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the customers' accounts will be credited through direct benefit transfers (DBT) wherever applicable and make use of banking correspondence network and ATMs for your cash withdrawals, it said.

For smooth functioning of branch operations, many banks are undertaking rationalisation of branch functioning.

The country''s largest lender State Bank of India, with over 23,000 branches, has put out a schedule for its branches, which are functioning on Friday.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday assured that money under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana will reach beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer in their bank accounts to mitigate hardships faced by the poor unleashed by the coronavirus outbreak.

As far as fund transfers are concerned, necessary arrangements will be made, Panda said.

first published:March 27, 2020, 19:50 IST