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This ATM chatbot on Facebook Messenger will show cash availability in the nearest ATMs; here's how it works

A Tamil Nadu-based startup has created a chatbot that shows you the nearest ATMs and the status of cash availability in them. However, the chatbot doesn’t really solve much of a problem. Here’s why.

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Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi dropped the demonetization bomb last week, it seems like half the country has just been camping outside ATMs. While in his fight against black money and corruption, the Prime Minister declared the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal overnight, the common man was left struggling with the new arrangement of legal and illegal cash. And there being a limit on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn, people are easily and quickly running out of cash in hand, needing to rush to ATMs again. However, the ‘running out of cash’ is not a problem limited to the people, but since last week itself, most ATMs have been out of cash as well.

Although this is a conscious push by the government to encourage digital payments, but not everyone in the country is comfortable with suddenly shifting to electronic payments. Now, in order to facilitate people struggling with the ATM menace, a Tamil Nadu-based startup, Timebender Technologies, has created a chatbot, which allows users to track the ATMs in their close proximity, along with information on which one has cash and which ones have run out of them.

In order to run the bot, just open Facebook Messenger app, and search ‘ATM ChatBot’, and you’d spot one in search with a blue robot profile. Type in ‘Nearest ATM that has cash’ or even a simple ‘Hi’, and the chatbot will prompt you to share your location. Right at the bottom of the screen, you’d see an option to share location, which would lead you to the maps and help you send your accurate location. Once you send in location, the chatbot would ask you to pick one of the two actions, either you feed in data of an ATM you just visited, or receive data of ATMs around you. According to the action you choose, it will give you the list of the ATMs around you.

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When you choose to receive data of ATMs close to your location, each ATM location is accompanied with a map with direction to the vestibule, along with data about the ATMs still vending cash or have run out of money. On the other hand, when you choose to enter ATM data, the chatbot allows you to send in your review of the ATM you visited, as to the status of cash there at the moment. You can choose the ATM you visited from the list it shows you, and select from ‘cash’ or ‘no cash’ options.

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If you are wondering about the Entering data option in the chatbot, that is to keep the information on cash availability. The bot works on crowdsourced information and does not work on any collaboration with a bank. So it kind of works like Zomato, where you would visit a restaurant, place your review, give in your ratings, and eventually a strong database is prepared. ALSO READ: Why India’s demonetization of Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes is not affecting me

Although, the app comes with a noble cause, however, the strength of the app is its own weakness – the crowdsourced data. When we used the bot, it showed us about 10 ATMs in the vicinity. Out of the 10 ATMs that showed up, one showed out of cash, and the rest of them showed ‘no data available’.

While eventually the user information will create a strong data base for chatbot, but the emergency is really being faced at this very moment. In the course of time, presumable the issue of shortage of cash will be met by the government itself. While, the chatbot will still hold importance in the future, but presently it does not really solve any problem. ALSO READ: Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency demonetization: Google search now lets you find the nearest ATM

  • Published Date: November 18, 2016 6:20 PM IST