With 1.3 billion people, the world’s second-most populated nation is still very much a cash society and banks have been excluded from a 21-day lockout that started last week as they are considered an important service. India’s central bank and major lenders are working on a proposal to shut most branches during the lockdown of the country to prevent tens of thousands of jobs, four sources familiar with the matter, from being infected with the coronavirus.
Under the scheme, only one bank branch in major cities will likely be open every five km, the sources said, declining to be named as the discussions regarding closures were not publicly disclosed.
According to an official with a state-run bank, banks are also considering allowing interoperable services, which would mean that customers of one bank might withdraw from any other bank and the transaction would be settled between the lenders.
The Reserve Bank of India and the Association of Indian Banks did not respond immediately to requests for comment.