Karachi: Online banking suffers, ATMs report connectivity issues as Eid approaches

Erum Zaidi
Several people wait in line at an ATM booth on a holiday. Photo: AFP

KARACHI: Long queues were seen on Saturday at ATM booths of various banks in the city, as more customers avoided bank interactions due to the surge in coronavirus and limited banking hours ahead of Eid. 

A lot of ATMs reported connectivity issues and online banking suffered as well, with many people using both services to draw money to shop for the approaching Eid. 

Like every year, overseas Pakistanis sent home large amounts of money to their families and relatives before Eid. So, ATMs are facing a big rush of clients.

Customers standing at the ATM in various localities of the city told The News they were facing difficulties withdrawing cash from ATMs. Most ATMs were running out of cash due to insufficient funds.

“We are frustrated by the inappropriate services of ATMs and online banking services before Eid festival every year,” a customer said.

The federal government has announced holidays from May 10-15. Pressure on online banking has also increased, as many have taken to use e-banking to withdraw money or make deposits, to avoid physically going to banks due to limited bank timings in the age of the pandemic. 

With the increased use of e-banking and internet usage, came other problems. 

“An increased demand and usage of the internet and mobile banking caused some technical glitches so some customers were facing issues in accessing their net banking and mobile banking services, but many banks have not resolved these issues yet,” said a banker.

Abid Qamar, the chief spokesman for the State Bank of Pakistan said the central bank has given instructions to banks for elaborate arrangements to ensure 24/7 availability of ATMs.

“According to our internal monitoring most of the ATMs are available to serve the public. Teams of SBP and banks are working continuously to address complaints in this regard,” Qamar said.

In a letter issued to banks, the SBP’s Payment System Department said during the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays from May 10-15, 2021, the public largely be dependent on alternate and digital payment services including ATMs, point of sale, online payment gateways and internet/mobile banking services for their day-to-day needs.

“As per our experience, customers usually face issues like ATM inaccessibility due to locked cubicle doors and shutter closures, out-of-cash ATMs, network connectivity issues, disruption in online services and refusal of merchants to accept card payments,” it said.

The SBP advised banks to take all necessary measures to ensure continuous and round-the-clock availability of banking and payment services to customers.

“Please ensure that your business continuity and disaster recovery arrangement are in place and fully functional,” the SBP asked banks.