"Gramateller Duo" an ATM runs on solar energy developed by Vortex Inc.

It’s hard to do your banking when the nearest branch is a day away and you don’t have any electricity. These new cash machines run on the sun’s power, and can bring some modern banking to truly out-of-the-way places.

For many villagers in rural areas of India, personal banking is pricey in ways American could never imagine. First, there is the cost of reaching the nearest branch. Bus fares are expensive, and a day’s labor is lost in the journey. Simply installing ATMs in villages that don’t have reliable electricity (or don’t have at all) is problematic, while building bank branches in every hamlet is out of the question.

Indian engineering company Vortex has taken on the challenge by creating solar-powered ATMs. Superficially similar to the cash dispenser in your corner convenience store, these rugged little bank tellers are a distant species altogether.

So far, Vortex has deployed about 450 across almost every state in India, mostly in small towns about 60 kilometers from bank branches, reports Yale Environment 360. Vortex officials say they plan to install about 10,000 more within the next two years, while an international expansion is also underway.The Gramateller ATM is lean, efficient and designed to live almost anywhere humans do. It carries its own solar panels, alongside four to eight hours of battery storage. Despite the ability to operate in temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit, it never needs cooling, unlike most ATMs. Clever engineering also means it’s 90% more efficient than conventional machines, consuming about $10 of electricity per month in India. The ATM also comes with a fingerprint identification system, making it easy for those unfamiliar with digital devices to withdraw cash.

Convenience cash may never be far away. The poor living in far flung locations just need to be able to earn enough of it to withdraw.

With the mission of helping banks reach out profitably to unbanked & under-banked regions, and years of R & D ably supported by IIT Madras, Vortex has designed ATMs which are highly reliable, rugged, easy to use and eco-friendly. They consume up to 90% lesser power and hence can be economically operated using solar power. Vortex ATMs are currently serving even the remotest parts of rural India – using technology as an enabler to improve quality of life.

Vortex’s innovative ATM portfolio comprises Gramateller Indi ATM, Gramateller Duo ATM, and solar power options for both these models. Additionally, the company provides related software solutions to help banks roll out end-to-end ATM services.

The company has been selected as one among the 10 start-ups that will change your life by TIME magazine, is one among 31 visionary companies selected as Technology Pioneers 2011 by World Economic Forum, and was a finalist of the Wall Street Journal Asia Innovation Awards 2010.
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