Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told banks at the beginning of January to provide hand sanitisers at all ATMs or face the might of the law
The Banking Association of South Africa then said in a statement that it would talk to the relevant government departments to change the wording of the latest regulations to indicate that banks were only responsible for enforcing the regulations where it was practical, possible and within their control.
If the regulations were not amended, 70% of ATMs would have to be closed down, forcing consumers into banking halls where the risk of being infected with Covid-19 would be higher.
Asked how far negotiations are to change the regulations, a spokesperson for the association said they were continuing to engage with government about the regulations, but could not provide any further comment at this stage. It emphasised that banks were working to comply with the regulations to the best of their ability.
According to the association, banks had to comply with regulations and an unintended consequence of the regulations in their current form could be the removal of non-compliant ATMs from service. ATMs are one of the most convenient ways for people to access their money and banking services, such as social security grant payments and access to earnings and cash.
The full ATM network also reduced the number of people who may have to queue at bank branches and available ATMs. Sassa beneficiaries, in particular, would suffer the most if ATMs were closed, the association said
ATMs not attached to branches are cleaned and sanitised by external cleaning companies or landlords and cash-in-transit companies that service the ATMs. About 70% of the 30,000 ATMs in the country are in remote locations and on premises not owned by banks, such as petrol-station forecourts, malls and in shops in more remote communities.