MUMBAI: The collapse of Yes Bank has shaken Mumbaikars’ faith in the banking system, coming as it does barely six months after the closure of PMC Bank in September 2019. The finance minister’s and RBI’s advice to not panic seemed mere platitudes for depositors who pointed out that despite similar assurances, the PMC Bank issue remains unresolved to date.
As soon as the news broke, money transfer apps, payments banks as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions that have accounts there pressed the stop button on Yes Bank.
In a flashback to the PMC Bank scenario, crowds of depositors assembled outside Yes Bank branches citywide. From Andheri to Mulund and indeed Thane, anxious faces were visible. Some people had weddings coming up as the marriage season begins next month, others had surgeries to budget for.
At Mulund West, among those who stood in queue to withdraw Rs 50,000 was Chandan Chotrani whose mother-in-law Bharati Sadarangani was a PMC depositor. She had died of a heart attack in the aftermath of its closure. Chotrani said, “I cannot understand what is wrong with our system. Two banks have wound up within six months. Luckily for me, I withdrew some amount two days ago. But my family and I all have more deposits here.”
Another account holder Bhumika Lalwani angrily demanded her money when staffers claimed cash was over. “Because of my tantrum, at least four other people got their money also. I felt terrible to see wealthy depositors arrive in cars and wait hours to withdraw just Rs 50,000. There were silver haired gentlemen, old people hobbling on walking sticks, even a man wearing a face mask and bandages on his body who waited hours in queue for petty sums. Is this the promise of Achhe Din?” she fumed.
Meanwhile, Prashant Kumar, who was appointed administrator of Yes Bank by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), issued a statement to say, “The current moratorium has been brought into effect keeping the depositors’ interest in mind and towards restoring their confidence. A solution is being worked upon to revive the Bank well before the moratorium period of thirty days ends. The Bank is also taking necessary steps to ensure seamless transactions for the customers. We assure the depositors that their money is safe and there is absolutely no reason to panic.”
These were empty words which could not quell fears. Some Yes Bank account holders complained that despite the RBI’s assurance of a Rs 50,000 withdrawal limit, no online transactions were being processed at all, be it a token Rs 100.
Yes Bank branches in Andheri East painted a sorry picture for desperate depositors. Several notices were pasted stating that the ATM was either shut or out of cash, and the online system was non-functional. The RBI order helped bank staffers stave off uncomfortable questions from helpless account holders.
Meanwhile in Bhiwandi, All Saints School which has its account in Yes Bank instructed parents of students to do not make any online payment of school fees into that account. The school administration said it would inform them about alternative payment options in a few days.
Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL) announced that they were restricting transaction settlements, including UPI, into Yes Bank accounts to safeguard their users’ money.