How do you gain access to your money if your bank is many miles away? Well, ATMs. But how does a village have an ATM if it can't power the thing? Vortex Engineering has come up with a solar-powered solution for providing ATMs to people in rural areas of India.
The Economic Times reports that Vortex has been installing its new ATM design and has been getting great feedback.
"The initial lot of 400 solar ATMs, aptly called Gramateller ('gram' means village), the world's largest order, placed by the State Bank of India ( SBI), has been winning accolades for performance and substantial energy savings. The ATMs were installed in 2010-11 across several states, usually within 20-50 km of the district headquarters, Vijay Babu, CEO of Vortex Engineering, which makes these units, told IANS from Chennai. Following SBI's success with solar ATMs, the Catholic Syrian Bank also placed an order for 50 Gramatellers and Indian Bank for 20, while 10 more have been ordered by other banks, he added."
The Gramatellers are more hearty versions of traditional ATMs. They cost a bit more but pay for themselves with about two years thanks to the solar energy, whereas traditional ATMs are a constant expense as they eat up generator fuel. In fact, a solar-powered ATM saves over 90% of annual expenses spent on traditional ATMs.
According to The Economic Times, the Grammatellers have a 12-hour back-up battery and needs at least five hours of sunlight daily to keep it charged. And, thanks to this back-up battery, customers can use the ATMs even when power is cut of to the rest of the village. Because they're less expensive in the long run, other banks in countries in Africa and East Asia are also interested in purchasing units to provide to rural customers.
Solar power is literally putting money in the hands of banking customers, giving them more control over their own funds. And all for a cheaper cost to both banks and the environment.