At a time when banks are taking credit for handling the mad rush of demonetisation, the postal department is silently acting as the real saviour for people in distress, particularly in rural areas.
In a development that may give sleepless nights to heads of banks, the cash-strapped postal department, which was once dubbed as ‘burden’ for the government, is set to become the largest bank of the country.
With over 30 crore live accounts in over 1.54 lakh post offices, the India Post is all set to provide online banking facilities to its account holders as well as access to its over 1,000 ATMs for customers of other banks from the end of this month.
“We have applied for inter operability license from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is expected to come within one month. Once we get the inter operability license, savings bank account holders of India Post would start getting access to ATMs of other banks and debit/credit cards of other banks can be used in ATMs of India Post,” T Murthy, Member (Operations) of Postal Services Board told Millennium Post.
Murthy further said, “Given that India Post has around 30 crore savings accounts with a total deposit of about Rs 6 lakh crore, we are hopeful of rolling out inter operability services before the next financial year, which will provide access to services like internet banking, mobile banking, etc.”
Talking about the key role played by post offices during the demonetisation drive, Murthy said, “The department has exchanged 78 crore invalid notes to the tune of Rs 3,681 crore, and Rs 35,028 crore in deposits between November 8 to November 24.”
Commenting on the challenges, the official said, “There were some challenges, but we managed by pumping in more cash in those post offices of rural areas where queues were longer in comparison to other branches. Even though we got less cash from the RBI, customers supported and co-operated with us while dispensing the cash to the needy.”
“We took innovative steps like supplying cash to patients in government hospitals in all major cities through our mail vans. In some cities, we also hired private vehicles to dispense cash to needy patients in hospitals by exchanging old notes,” the Member (Operations) of Postal Services Board said, adding, “With such a huge network, we are confident that India Post will make profits via postal payment bank.”
While spelling out the achievements of Postal Department, he said, “The department handles around 20 crore registered mail and 550 crore unregistered mail in a year, while 45 crore items are sent to different parts of the country via speed post.”