THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Non-resident Indians in the UAE were on cloud nine for sometime on Wednesday as Google's currency converter went haywire around noon showing that the Indian currency exchange rate against dirham at a record Rs 24.8. This triggered an avalanche of calls from the Indian community, especially Keralites, who always look for a weaker rupee against dirham to send money home.
However, the joy didn't last long as the Indian rupee which briefly plunged to about Rs 24.8 against the UAE dirham later stabilised to Rs 19.98 about an hour later. Even when the conversion rate plunged, the Indian rupee was at 73.48 against the US dollar and no exchange or bank reflected the plunge in the rate of rupee against dirham. According to Google data, which reflects real-time money exchange rate provided by US-based financial services firm Morningstar, the rate fluctuated between Rs 23 and Rs 24.83 against one dirham, before stabilising at Rs 19.98.
Obviously, the short-term plunge led the Covid-hit Indian expats in the UAE to rush to exchanges and banks for confirmation. Akin Raj Antony, senior supervisor of temporarily closed UAE Exchange office at terminal 3 of Dubai airport, said the currency conversion rate of Pakistani rupee used to go haywire and this would often happen at midnight. "It would be a harrowing time for the staff at the exchange offices or banks when the Google search engine develops glitches in currency conversion," he said.
"Indians or other nationals will understand the situation when the reasons for the technical glitch were explained to them. But the Pakistanis will not agree to the explanation provided by the staff at the exchanges. They would often argue that they were cheated by the banks or money exchanges by not giving them the low rates shown by Google. This time as well, the software bug made it appear that Pakistan's currency had also collapsed," he said. In the past, Google used to state that it "cannot guarantee the accuracy of the exchange rates displayed. You should confirm current rates before making any transactions that could be affected by changes in the exchange rates".
The search engine has never claimed that their converter should be the only source of checking conversion rates, and the disclaimer tab covers everything from the delays in updating the exchange rates to offering no guarantee on the displayed numbers. But the people often rely on the Google rates to decide when the money should be sent to India.