Indians are on a treasure hunt where the treasure is their own hard-earned money. 

The country's demonetization drive has left its population cash-hungry. Ever since the 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes were taken out of circulation, snaking lines outside ATMs and banks have become a common fixture in towns and cities. People have until December 30 to exchange their demonetized notes at banks or deposit them in their accounts.

India is far from being a cashless economy. As of July 2016, there were only 25.9 million credit cards and 697.2 million debit cards issued in the country. In the month of July, 85% of debit card transactions were conducted at ATMs to withdraw cash, according to central bank figures reported on by Business Standard

When it comes to commuting, buying groceries at local vendors, or even paying workers in the informal sector, having cash on hand is important. Since the government is struggling to meet the currency needs of its over 1 billion population, withdrawal limits have been placed on banks and ATMs. ATMs have frequently run out of cash and most haven't been calibrated to distribute the new 2000 rupee notes. In this scenario, tracking down an ATM close to you that works and has cash in it has become vital. (See also, Digital Payments Gain On India’s Currency Demonetization)

When entrepreneur Lokesh Verma spent a few hours last weekend looking for an ATM close to his home, he was inspired to make things easier for everyone. Verma registered a domain name and the following day launched a website (atmsearch.in) that provides real-time updates on ATMs in a city with a quick search.

Details about whether the ATM has cash in it and what the size of the crowd outside it is are crowdsourced. "What disappointed me most was that almost all political rival leaders very busy spreading rumors, panic and negativity only and were not taking steps to spread positivity and smoothen the transition," he said. The website got 60,000 hits in less than three hours on Sunday. 

A personal finance app called 'Walnut' has added a similar feature which tracks transactions of its 1.8 million users and asks them to provide reports on the size of the crowd at the ATM. Walnut aggregates these reports to provide information on ATMs near you with cash. ATMs with long lines are marked with a red pin on the map. The app has a 4.5 rating on the Google Play Store, but since the information hinges on whether Walnut users have accessed ATMs in a certain area, some users complain that it is insufficient.

Cashnocash.com, developed by e-commerce website Quikr and IT trade association NASSCOM, detects your location and tells you the status of ATMs near you. Users report if there is a long wait, cash or no cash at a specific ATM. The page has been shared over 8,000 times online.

CMS Infosystems, a company which handles 55,000 ATMs across the country, has launched a search function as well. 

 

 

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