Indians wait hours outside banks for new currency notes

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Hundreds of people queue outside a branch of Punjab National Bank at noon Friday.
Image: manish singh / mashable india

Long, snaking lines were seen outside banks across India for the second straight day on Friday as hundreds of millions of people struggled to obtain paper cash.

The sudden withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes starting Wednesday has left an enormous chunk of the citizenry stranded without enough paper cash in their wallets.

Image: AP

The governments attempt to shrink the countrys black market economy may start to show positive results in the months to come, but for now many Indians wish the government had not made their lives so difficult during the transition.

People formed queues today outside banks that extended down and around the next few blocks. Many also stood in the line to exchange the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills. Mobile wallets and other digital payment solutions have yet to gain ground.

Image: AP

The government had assured users that ATM machines across the nation will start to pump out smaller denomination notes as well as new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. Yet that wasnt the case at most places as of this writing. We visited over a dozen ATM booths only to find that they were closed, out of service or out of cash.

Image: AP

Several people we spoke to expressed anger and frustration about how this reform has played out. Many had to take a leave from their offices today and cancel other plans. They waited for hours, often publicly expressing their anger, and looked at the door with puzzled eyes hoping that the banks wouldn’t run out of cash. Many in such queues were women, who had stood up for more than five hours.

Image: AP

The Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, at the time of scrapping, were the most circulated currency in India, accounting for as much as 85 percent of paper money. The surprise announcement on Tuesday evening set off alarm across the nation as people rushed to ATMs with only hours before the notes in their wallets would turn redundant.

Several people also rushed to gas stations to make use of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and get some smaller denomination bills.

The transition has taken a toll on small businesses everywhere. Many owners of such businesses told Mashable that sales at their shops have dropped. Most small shops dont have terminal machines to run purchases via plastic cards.

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