Liquid Assets: Water Dispensing ATMs In India

What's Next In Payments®
4:23 PM EDT January 3rd, 2013

ATM-like machines don’t always have to dispense cash.

That’s the wild idea behind one of the coolest concepts we’ve seen in a while: a “water ATM” made by Sarvajal that helping to improve the lives of many near the Alwar District of northern India.

The basic design of the machine is simple. The ATM comes with a water tank locked above the machine, with a tank connected to a reverse osmosis (RO) water plant that uses groundwater for processing, according to rediff.com. The water is carried to the tank using booster pumps, and can process 1,000 liters in an hour.

To receive a “payment” of 1, 5 or 10 liters, a consumer simply scans a prepaid card with the ATM. A liter of water costs 50 paisa, which is roughly the equivalent to $0.01. Newer models can dispense the water in more precise measurements.

According to Dharamveer Singh, sales head of Sarvajal, the RO water also helps take care of a serious public safety concern for many in the region.

“Groundwater here has high TDS content. Processing leaves 50 percent water with TDS content,” she said, noting that the water is sent back to the acquirers through recharge wells. Sarvajal also said that the ATMs are outfitted with Global Systems for Mobile communications (GSM) technology that can alert a remote operator when any of the 20 machines detect water impurity, malfunctions or rusty pipes.

The ATMs are managed through local partners, who pay around 40 percent of their earnings to Sarvajal.

To see slides of the water ATMs in action, check out the rediff.com piece here.

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