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Coronavirus lockdown: Will banks remain open?

Mansi Jaswal     March 25, 2020

All private and public sector banks in the country will remain open during the 21-day lockdown announced by the Prime Minister of India. However, almost all the bank branches will be open for limited hours only. In order to reduce public gathering, the banks have urged their customers to avail net-banking or mobile banking services in case of non-essential activities during this period.

The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) stated that its branches will be opened for only 3 to 4 hours during the lockdown. On normal days, the SBI branches are open for at least 7 hours. SBI MD PK Gupta, in a TV channel interview, advised customers to adopt digital banking and visit bank branches only for essential services. Gupta also stated that almost 21,000 SBI branches will remain open and ATMs will also remain functional during the 3-week lockdown.

SBI, in a tweet, also said, "Our  54,585 customer service points (CSPs) are up and running 15.22 lakh customers served by CSP workforce".

Additionally, SBI has announced to commit 0.25% of its annual profit (FY 2020-21) to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in India through CSR funding.

Also read: Coronavirus in India Live Updates: 4 new cases in Maharashtra, 5 in Tamil Nadu; tally reaches 568

Private lender Kotak Mahindra bank urged its customers to go for digital banking in case of non-essential activities. "We request you to use Mobile/Net Banking & ATM for 24x7 access to your account," Kotak Bank said.  It also informed that between March 23 and March 31, the bank's branches will provide services from 10 am to 2 pm.

"Due to COVID-19 and as a measure of abundant caution, our branches and customer contact centre is working with fewer staff. From March 23 to March 31 our branches will be serviceable from 10 am to 2 pm," Kotak Bank tweeted. The bank also added that customer care services will be available from 10 am to 6 pm.

Government-owned Union Bank of India has stated that it will provide support to all its existing customers through 'Covid Emergency Line of Credit (CELC)'- a service launched by the bank to provide additional credit facilities to the customers for handling liquidity issues amid the outbreak.

Besides, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that debit cardholders will be able to withdraw cash for free from any other bank's ATM till June 30. She also waived off the minimum balance fee charged from customers till June 30.

Sitharaman also directed all banks to reduce charges on digital transactions for all trade finance customers till June 30.

Also read: Covid-19 impact: Barclays cuts India's GDP target to 2.5%, fiscal deficit to 5% of GDP

Also read: Coronavirus impact: World's medical glove capital struggles with lockdown

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