ATMs in the country may not be up and running easy soon after a US company withdrew its software licence to its Indian franchise that caters to over 40,000 ATMs belonging to some 20 plus banks, both nationalised and private.
A report in the Free Press Journal said the Finance Ministry realised it was sitting on a powderkeg only on November 11 when the ATMs were not back in business after being shut for two days (November 9 and 10) after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to demonetise Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes. The banks had by then said they were helpless and could move ahead only if the machines were recalibrated and the software updated as it needed to be.
Chennai-based Financial Software and Systems Private Limited (FSS), which managed the ATMs under licence from ACI Worldwide, a US Florida-headquartered company, didn’t attend to the banks’ distress calls since ACI had withdrawn FSS’s licence to operate ATMs in the country from November 1 this year. Yes, just a week before the demonetisation.
ACI Worldwide also put out a public notice in major newspapers announcing the decision to withdraw licence from FSS.
So the banks cannot contact FSS to fix their ATMs or recalibrate them and not can they use the FSS-installed software that was on licence from ACI. This dilemma was covered by the talk of necessary secrecy as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the media.
The further complications are two-fold: the country is short of Rs 100 notes and that new notes like the Rs 2000 note need new additions in software, which cannot be tinkered with any more since ACI has threatened of intellectual property violation if ATMs are meddled with.