From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published May 8, 2012 09:14 AM

Getting Instant Cash...Off the Grid

Many of us in the West take for granted our state-of-the-art banking systems, which make it very easy to deposit and withdraw cash. Every little town has a bank, and in the city there is practically one around the corner. Unfortunately, not every country has such luxury. In India, for example, personal banking requires travelling to the nearest branch, often in far-away cities, requiring nearly a full day to do so. However, thanks to an innovation in ATM technology, all this is going to change. Vortex Engineering, a start-up sponsored by Chennai's Indian Institute of Technology, has created an energy-efficient solar power ATM machine. This will bring the ability to do banking to even the most remote Indian Village.


The innovation of a solar powered ATM is a win-win for Indian account-holders and Indian bankers. It will allow more transactions to be done, and decrease the often prohibitive expense of travelling to the closest branch. Vortex is marketing their machines as a way for banks to reach out to unbanked and under-banked regions.

The new ATMs are being called Gramateller, whereas "gram" in Hindi means "village". Their unique design allows them to run using 90% less power than traditional ATM machines. Their low power requirements allow them to function in the extreme heat of southern India without overheating. It also allows them to function well in the snowy winters of northern India.

To date, 450 Gramatellers have been installed and 10,000 more are set to be installed within the next two years. Other countries have taken notice, and the solar panels may soon be going international. Other countries with interest include Bangladesh, Madagascar, Nepal, and Djibouti.

The Vortex ATMs are more rugged and durable than other ATMS, and they will work well even in harsh conditions. Other developing nations should take a look at this innovation in banking. It may be one of the best ways to improve their economies, particularly in rural communities.

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Image credit: Vortex

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