Postman may soon become the point of contact for all your financial work
Your postman may soon become the point of contact for all your financial work. Read how
NEW DELHI: Come 2018 and the humble postman will be armed with a high-tech device that will enable him to carry out various financial transaction at the door step of people.
The India Post Payment Bank, which plans to launch nationwide operations by March 2018, is coming up with a large contract to source such devices for more than 1.5 lakh postmen.
The equipment, a micro-ATM of sorts, will have a biometric reader, a printer and a debit card and credit card reader attached to it. A tender for 2 lakh such devices is almost ready and will be released in a month’s time, India Post Payment Bank chief executive AP Singh told ET. Hewlett Packard Enterprise has already been chosen to build the backend for India Post Payment Bank as a system integrator.
“The idea is to streamline and focus on payments through the bank. We have identified close to one dozen payments, including utility bills such as gas and electricity, mobile, DTH, school fees, etc.”, which the payments bank will seek to facilitate, Singh said. India Post is working on an app that will enable these payments.
It will also allow booking of bus and unreserved train tickets, categories which are highly cash dependant. “Even small payments such as for fruits and vegetables, and welfare payment transfers under the direct benefits transfer scheme are on the radar,” said Singh.
“We have to focus on payments rather than deposits,” said Singh. Reserve Bank of India rules don’t allow payments banks to take deposits, the key and cheap source of funds for conventional banks. To generate revenue, India Post Payment Bank will charge each payment transaction that happens through its app, either from the customer or the bill company, Singh said.
“The Post Office already has 35 crore accounts, we are targeting around 8 crore households in the next five years (as customers for the payments bank).”
At a recent UN conference, Singh had said while private sector rivals such as Paytm and Airtel Payments Bank would skim the market from the top, India Post would have a bottoms up approach. Arming the postman with the micro-ATM and turning him into a sort of a banking correspondent may be part of the plan to target rural and the semi-urban areas.
“The micro ATM and the banking correspondent model has been tried and may help in turning cash into digital at the last leg, even though it may take some time,” said Vivek Belgavi, partner and India FinTech Leader at PwC.
In a village, the nearest bank branch may be 10-25 kms away and the India Post, with its huge network of post offices and postmen, may be able to effectively cater to that audience, he added. The proposed India Post app will allow person-to-person transactions.
In the dozen key bill payments it is targeting, those who aren’t familiar with operating an app on their own can approach the postmen armed with micro-ATMs to help them make payments.
Meanwhile, as opposed to the earlier plan of having separate branches for the payment bank, India Post is looking to capitalise on the existing network of 1.55 lakh post offices and 3 lakh employees on the postal network.