The Reserve Bank on Thursday permitted banks to increase charges for cash and non-cash ATM transactions beyond free monthly permissible limit from next year.
Bank customers will have to pay Rs 21 per transaction, instead of Rs 20, with effect from January 1, 2022, if they exceed the monthly limit of free transactions.
"To compensate the banks for the higher interchange fee and given the general escalation in costs, they are allowed to increase the customer charges to Rs 21 per transaction. This increase shall be effective from January 1, 2022," the RBI said in a circular.
However, customers will continue to be eligible for five free transactions (inclusive of financial and non-financial transactions) every month from their own bank ATMs. They would also be able to do three free transactions from other bank ATMs in metro centres and five in non-metro centres.
Also, effective August 1, 2021, banks are allowed to increase interchange fee per transaction from Rs 15 to Rs 17 for financial transactions and from Rs 5 to Rs 6 for non-financial transactions in all centres, the circular said.
ATMs are deployed by banks for serving their own customers and also provide services to other banks' customers as acquirers where they earn interchange income.
The RBI said the charges have been allowed to be increased given the increasing cost of ATM deployment and expenses towards ATM maintenance incurred by banks/white label ATM operators, as also considering the need to balance expectations of stakeholder entities and customer convenience.
It is to be noted here that the central bank had set up a committee in June 2019 under the chairmanship of the chief executive of Indian Banks' Association to review the entire gamut of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) charges and fees with particular focus on interchange structure for ATM transactions.
The RBI said the suggestions of the panel were comprehensively examined.
"It is also observed that the last change in interchange fee structure for ATM transactions was in August 2012, while the charges payable by customers were last revised in August 2014. A substantial time has thus elapsed since these fees were last changed," it said.
There were 1,15,605 onsite ATMs and 97,970 off-site ones as on March 31, 2021. About 90 crore debit cards issued by different banks were outstanding at end-March 2021.
The first ATM in India was set up in 1987 by HSBC in Mumbai. In the following twelve years, about 1,500 ATMs were set up in India. In 1997, the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) set up Swadhan, the first network of shared ATMs which allowed interoperable transactions.
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