Most private sector branches insist on a request slip and proof of identity to exchange currency notes. Some branches have also printed deposit slips requiring note exchange seekers to fill in the serial numbers of the Rs 2,000 notes.
Meanwhile, officials at PSB branches that were not asking for documents told TOI that customers of private banks from nearby branches were queuing up at their branches to exchange notes. “We have been told not to ask for proof of identity, and many are coming in more than once a day to exchange,” said an SBI branch manager. Another public sector bank official said that many businesses were sending employees to queue up for exchange.
SBI, the country’s largest bank, had on May 20 asked branches to obtain a deposit slip and identity proof from those coming to exchange their notes but had reversed its directive a day later.
There were complaints from customers that branches of private banks were refusing to entertain non-customers for the exchange of notes. In one case, a private bank refused to accept Rs 2,000 currency notes for deposit into the bank account without the accountholder being present.
Branch managers are under pressure as there are no clear-cut instructions in writing. Some managers said they had received instructions from seniors to convince customers to deposit currency notes instead of exchanging them.
While the first day of exchange did not see many people queuing up, the lines are growing longer at branches that freely exchange notes.
Some enterprises use note withdrawal as an opportunity to increase their business. Canara Bank has said it has waived cash remittance charges for those making fixed deposits using Rs 2,000 denomination notes. The bank is marketing its 444-day deposit scheme, which offers 8%.
Unity Small Finance Bank is asking holders of the Rs 2,000 notes to visit their branch and use them to open a fixed deposit and earn up to 9.5% interest. However, some businesses put out notices that they were not accepting Rs 2,000 notes.