Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post office eyes financial sector, to have ATMs for its account holders

Dear Comrades,

JAIPUR: Soon post offices in state will have ATMs too. A total of 23 head posts offices in the state have been identified where the ATMs will be installed by the department of post (DoP).

As part of its modernization process, the department will initially set up the ATMs in Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur regions. "It is a pilot project which has been initiated in five states among which Rajasthan is one. We are working on the feasibility of the project and is expecting to start it by the year end," said Rajiv Singh, chief post master general, Rajasthan circle.

The ATMs will be installed on the premises of branch offices and the facility will be available only for saving account holders. "We have 1.3 crore accounts in Rajasthan and we are already in some sort of financial services. Last year, our net balance was Rs 7.5 lakh crore for small saving which makes us the largest bank in the country. Even in Rajasthan, we have more branches than gram panchayats. So ATMs will be another stepping stone in getting into the core banking services," Singh said.

The ATM services will be a major boost for the saving account holders in the post offices as they need not to go to the counter for withdrawing money. Initially, it will be functional only at the post office ATMs but the department is mulling to extend its services at other ATMs too. "The mode of operation is yet to be decided but certainly in future the cards can be accessed at other ATMs too," Ashok Kumar, director (HQ and marketing), said.

"We are in the process of finalizing the companies for technical support and have appointed Accenture as the consultant who is guiding us on the project. But before opening it for the public, we will run it on a trial basis for six months, to find out hitches if there are any in the system," Kumar said.

DoP has selected five major technology companies for five of its technology advancement projects. It has issued Letter of Intent to Infosys for two projects which are Rural System and Financial Services Integration.

The postal department is already eyeing the financial markets in the country. The huge network reaching out to the farthest and remotest areas of the country works in the advantage of the postal department. "We would like to be in the financial services. We are making attempts to seek permission from the Reserve Bank of India to allow us to grant small ticket finances in rural areas. We have network advantage with us," Singh said.
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