Everything you do is a cajero

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AP311726029787-c-440x317What makes the new normal for ordinary Venezuelans?

Beside the most obvious things like waiting in line and spending time looking out for everyday products, here’s another part of our routine: visting the closest available ATM (or cajero). And then another one. And another one.

Thanks to the combination of relentless inflation, the continuous printing overdrive of our Central Bank and BCV’s pigheaded refusal to issue a note worth more than 40 US cents or so (in the parallel market), folks have to make more frequent stops in the banks to withdraw money in order to keep up with prices. Economists even have a name for this: shoe leather costs.

Unsurprisingly, the simple task of using an ATM has turned into an odyssey for many people, as Maracaibo newspaper La Verdad reports:

 “I’m waiting for more than half hour to do something that shouldn’t take more than five minutes”, critized businesswoman Maria Castillo, while she waited her turn to withdraw cash.

“It’s hard to withdraw cash, especially over the weekends when there are larger line-ups, because either the ATM are broken or they don’t have money”, added 30-year old Castillo.”

Going to the ATM to withdraw or for a balance inquiry now calls for preparation and patience. In the article, sources related to the banks excused themselves for the instructions they have to follow, which sacrifice their customers’ needs in order to comply with an ever-increasing burden of regulation.

But apparently, there’s another reason for the problem: according to a report from the Central Bank, the number of ATMs in Venezuela stopped growing. Last year, only 42 new ATM machines were installed nationwide. In comparison, 635 new cajeros were incorporated in Venezuela back in 2012, and 478 in 2013.

Cajeros are complex machines that either break down, are vandalized or become targets for criminals. And given that their spare parts come from abroad, which require dollars and you probably know where this story is going… Tranquilo, I won’t go into a subject that many others have already explained way better that me.

At least banks took the “ecologic solution” to deal with the shortage of receipt paper: dropping receipts altogether.

1 COMMENT

  1. I stopped using the ATMs some time ago. You just can’t get enough out of them at one time. I typically get Bs.10,000 (100 – Bs.100 bills) from my bank at a time, and from that I recharge my “pocket money” at home. In order for the ATMs to be useful again, we need Bs.500 and Bs.1,000 denominations, at least.

    • I have an account at Provincial,
      You can go on-line & increase your limits however even doing that you can only get Bs.8.000 out by doing 2 transactions of Bs.4.000 each.
      If you have a partner who also has a card you can increase that amount to Bs.16.000 by doing 2 x 2 x Bs.4.000.

      What an excercise!!

      Roy is right the biggest problem is the lack of larger bills.
      But I guess that would make them admit the failure of their sytem where the Bolivar Fuerte has becone the Bolivar Debil.

    • I used to say we needed a VEF 500 note, but now we also need VEF 5000, something closer to USD 20.

      I mean, the other day I had VEF 5000 in VEF 100 bills, and my wallet wouldn’t close.

      Buying stuff without a debit card is really annonying, nowadays.

    • We are about to go full circle on the “Bolivar fuerte”. VEF 10 is used for the kind of transactions that usually happen with coins instead of bills (candy, bublegum, bus fare, etc), while VEF 2 and 5 bills are not usuable by themselves (a single VEF 2 bill o VEF 5 bill buys nothing) they are used as change or stacked together. In fact, most prices are know multiples of 10, so their usability is quickly fading.

  2. In Nicaragua under the first Sandinista government, the few caseros quickly became unusable. As in Venezuela today, a bill for buying groceries would take at least 250 banknotes of the highest denomination. People called these “ladrillos”, (bricks) and that became the unofficial currency. “That will be six ladrillos, please!” The ATM machines, built for US twenties, simply didn’t have enough space for all the paper bills needed. so they were always empty.

  3. This is the beauty of our Rebolusion Bolibanana: things balance in the end, just like the waters of a magnificent, perfectly designed Roman Aqueduct :

    Ay ehcase de papel ‘toale’? Well, then we modify our diet, eat less carne ‘e res y pollo porque tampoco hay. Thus, we shyt less, consume less papel toale, and everything is back in balance, la ley de la efelta y la demanda , mi pana.

    People are poor, there’s nothing to buy anyway, inflatation, currency depreciation? No problem! La rebolucion Bolibanana y el Comandante Chavez also thought about that! Have people wait in lines forever, empty the ATM Imperialistic machines, no cash, so less demand for papel toale, carne ‘e res y pollo!

    It’s a thing of beauty,

    • BTW, empty and malfunctioning ATM machines were also planned in order to lower crimes rates. La Rebolucion prefers Kidnapping of the Burguesia rich escualidos for ransoms to keep malandros busy.

  4. In Japan queuing is exceptional. Concerning everyday banking operations, ATMs in Japan are able to carry out even complex transactions (e.g money transfers abroad), making the actual visit to a branch unnecessary. Not to mention, you can do practically everything online.

    The biggest bank in Japan is the Postal Service Bank (Yuu-cho Ginkou). It has ATMs in every town. The ATMs are extremely advanced and user-friendly: for example, they work either with your card or your bank account book, which carries technology that identifies it electronically. It can also read your fingerprint to authorise money movements. At the same time, the design of the ATM is nice and welcoming, so you don’t feel intimidated by its abilities and end up by being fond of it.

    One reason for its ease of use is that Yuu-cho is the bank preferred by retirees who are less familiar with technology.

    Once visiting Kyoto I entered a mistaken code and the ATM withheld my card. This happened at Kyoto station, where there is a big branch with several ATMs. The Yuucho ATM has a phone terminal that puts you in contact with a human operator, in case a problem arises. I called the operator, described the problem and after hanging up a little door (like for a child) next to me opened and two technicians with security helmets on came out of it crouching. They manipulated the ATM and gave me back my card. I was left with my mouth open in astonishment.

    Just a little anecdote to show again that the reasons I had to leave Venezuela are now overshadowed by others, more powerful, like discovering human civilisation.

    • Alejandro: what a wonderful story , tells you so much about the admirable japanese ethos and culture , not sure that would work quite the same way in the US or even in most of Europe . If only Japan had a more open inmigration policy !!

    • The japanese already evolved.

      South Americans are the lucky cousins of Neanderthals who survived the ice age thanks to rumba, caña y setso

    • I love Japanese ATMs! I had the same thing happen with my card being withheld and staff coming in less than 10 minutes to help me recover it. I also love how you can just throw a bunch of bills and coins into it and it will count them and figure things out for you.

      Only one thing I didn’t understand: why they sometimes close. When I lived in a small town int he countryside the ATM at my school closed from 19:00 on Friday until Monday morning. Forget to withdraw before that and say hello to cashless weekends!
      (Granted this was over 8 years ago, now there are more ATMs at convenience stores and the coverage is much better)

  5. I was traveling Mérida a couple months ago, where still lots of places are small family run businesses that don’t accept cards and we had to plan our trips around finding working ATMs, queuing and getting enough cash to pay for everyday stuff.

    Very chevere.

    The issue is horrible in small towns. Another time we stoped at El junquito to get cash and there was only one atm working for the entire town. The queue was about two hours long.

    This was of course a perfect opportunity for psuv people as they had their guys preaching against the empire to the dozens of people of queue.

    There’s also the fact that cash is needed for idiotic reasons like most restaurants won’t take tips on the card now so you always need to carry cash for tips.

    • That is why i think lynching is a legitimate way to deal with chavista propaganda agents.

      One has to be an absolute scumbag to tease people waiting in line

  6. Not only these buffons are pigheaded inept cronies…they’re also scared shitless to even issue new currency notes of 200Bs or 500Bs to at least ameliorate the problem. As hiperinflation kicks off, a new “reconversación monetaria” would be in order by the end of this decade.

  7. To put in perspective what the regimes refusal of issuing money notes of more than 100bs means in todays climate of high inflation , lets consider that a 100Bs bill is equvalent to something like 40 US cents . What would happen in the US if the highest denominated bill was for 40 US Cents ??

  8. Another thing is that the people in queue prefer to withdraw 400 four times than to press “Another amount” and withdraw 1600 once…

    • Banesco sometimes does the trick of stuffing ATM´s with BsD 20 bills.

      So, 1600 becomes so thick it cannot actually pass through dispenser’s slot.

      Each bill is 0.3 mm thick give or take. So a pack of perfectly fresh and flat bills will be a whoping 24 mm thick.

      So, 1600 bsD is AN INCH of money. Go figure.

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