Consumers could be short of cash soon, not because their bank accounts are empty, but because banks could be forced to close down some of their automatic teller machines (ATMs).
This after co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told banks to provide hand sanitisers at all ATMs or face the might of the law.
Banking Association to take it up
The Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) said in a statement that it will talk to the relevant government departments to change the wording of the latest regulations to indicate that banks are only responsible for enforcing the regulations where it is practical, possible and within their control.
Banks are forced to comply with regulations and an unintended consequence of the regulations in their current form could be the removal of non-compliant ATMs from service.
Preventing virus spread at ATMs
According to BASA, banks are committed to create a safe environment for their clients to transact and will continue to implement practical measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 at ATMs, such as:
- Social distance markers and messaging to create awareness around ATMs where practical and possible, and
- ATMs attached to branches are cleaned and sanitised regularly during branch operating hours and banks will continue to ensure to sanitise them and provide hand sanitisers.
ATMs not attached to branches are cleaned and sanitised by external cleaning companies or landlords and cash-in-transit companies that service the ATMs.
About 70% of the 30,000 ATMs in the country are in remote locations and on premises not owned by banks, such as petrol-station forecourts, malls and in shops in more remote communities.
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Banks face various challenges at these ATMs not attached to banks when complying with the adjusted Lockdown Level 3 regulations:
- Although banks have tried to deploy hand sanitiser to remote ATMs, it was unsustainable due to pilferage and vandalism,
- Without bank staff in the vicinity of many remote ATMs, it is practically impossible for banks to monitor and enforce social distance queuing at ATMs, and
- Social distance markers are subject to the restrictions of the premise owner.
BASA says despite these challenges, banks are committed to improving the frequency of ATM sanitisation and ensuring that hand sanitisers are available at remote locations and will also work with building owners to improve communication of Covid-19 health protocols and to reinforce social distancing.