The world’s second-most populous nation with 1.3 billion people is still very much a cash society and banks have been exempted from a 21-day lockdown that began last week as they are considered an essential service. India’s central bank and major lenders are working on a plan to close most branches during the country’s lockdown, aiming to prevent tens of thousands of employees from becoming infected with the coronavirus, four sources familiar with the matter.
Under the plan, there would likely be only one bank branch open every five km in major cities, the sources said, declining to be identified as the discussions about the closures have not been publicly disclosed.
Banks are also considering allowing inter-operable services, which would mean that customers of one bank would be able to withdraw from any other bank and the transaction would be settled between the lenders, an official with a state-run bank said.
The Reserve Bank of India and the Indian Banks’ Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.