Sam Taraporevala, director, XRCV,operates a special ATM for the visualy challenged, installed at the Centre, whileAnurag Nigam, Director Managed Services, Diebold India , looks on.
Finally, hope of ATMs for India’s visually challenged

As banks are prodded by RBI, leading ATMs makers showcase disabled-friendly machines One of India’s more shameful statistics – the almost total neglect of physically ( especially visually) challenged customers’ needs by the banking establishment – might hopefully change for the better: Last week saw two leading international manufacturers of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) demonstrate special disabled –friendly machines at the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged ( – a unit within Sr Xavier’s College in Mumbai.

ATM maker Diebold –the pioneer with ATMs in India -- has installed an ATM at ZRCVC which boasts the following special features: wheel chair access; large display for users with partial vision; Braille-enabled function keys and guide labels for other functionalities including card reader, receipt, cash dispenser, depositor; bunch cash presenter for ease in collecting cash ; personalized headphone jack with voice control features;Voice guided transactions integrated digital video recorder for enhanced security. Based on feedback at this location, Diebold plans to scale up and tweak the design before offering these ATMs to India-based banks for deployment.

“We are proud to offer ATMs for the specially abled and are looking at deployments across India per banks requirements.”, says Naresh Hosangady, Managing Director, Diebold India

NCR who also have a major presence in India with their ATMS, are also known to have put up a special ATM at ZECVC – and between the two, they can be depended on to provide solutions that will make banking disabled-friendly – if Indian banks want to go that way: today, only a minuscule fraction of over 40,000 ATMS nationwide, can boast even such global given’s like wheelchair access, let alone special features for the visually challenged. Pradeep Sen, Managing Director for NCR in India said, “We are happy to showcase this ATM with features that would make banking easier for the visually challenged, thereby, reinforcing our commitment of making ATMs accessible to all types of consumers." 

Says Sam Taraporevala, Director, XRCVC: “ATMs today have increased convenience banking for the able-bodied customers. For the same effect to take place involving disabled people, ATMs will need to scale to meet accessibility standards. The ATM industry, as well as the banking industry all over the world, has made accessibility an inherent part of its production and deployment” .

Indeed, Indian banks have been routinely refusing to issue ATM cards to their customers with poor or no vision. That may soon change: In June 2008, that the Reserve Bank of India issued its first circular onBanking Facilities for the visually challenged , which said: “Banks are advised to ensure that all the banking facilities such as cheque book facility including third party cheques, ATM facility, Net banking facility, locker facility, retail loans, credit cards etc. are invariably offered to the visually challenged without any discrimination.”

And in a circular on April 29 this year, RBI subtly changed advice to mandate: “Banks should make at least one third of new ATMs installed as talking ATMs with Braille keypads and place them strategically in consultation with other banks to ensure that at least one talking ATM with Braille keypad is generally available in each locality for catering to needs of visually impaired persons”.

One in three new ATMs is a tall order – and a huge leap for the Indian banking industry. But it might see it also as a huge opportunity: According to Retail Banking Research ( ) India is one of the world’s fastest growing ATM markets, with their number poised to touch 100,000 by 2013. Put that number alongside another – the number of India’s visually challenged, which various estimates place between 12 million and 15 million – and one can see why last week’s tech showcase in Mumbai is not a day too soon.  ( Aug 24 2009)