There is a good news for around 200 million post office saving bank (POSB) account holders.
The Department of Posts (DOP) has launched a project to provide account holders with ATM facility. Under the project, all post offices throughout the country will be connected through an IT network. Besides, account holders will also be able to avail Internet banking facilities.
“We will connect the network of 1.55 lakh post offices that includes 1.2 lakh in rural areas,” said Kavery Banerjee, member, technology, postal services board. “Our central data centre is ready and vendors are developing customised banking service solutions.”
POSB operates small savings schemes on behalf of the ministry of finance and has over 260 million account holders, out of which about 200 million are saving and recurring deposit account holders. Total outstanding balance under all accounts in the POSB stood at around Rs.3,96,664 crore as on March 2012.
At present, an account holder has to go to a post office during office hours to withdraw money. Moreover, there is no facility of electronic transfer of money to a third-party account.
“Once customers are provided with the ATM facility, they will be able to withdraw money from any ATM, including that provided by banks,” said Banerjee.
Customers will, however, have to wait for more than a year to avail the ATM facility. POSB will start implementing core banking solution in limited number of post offices by the end of this year. Next year, it will be implemented in large number of post offices once the system is perfect.
For rural post offices, the department will provide handheld devices that will enable one to perform all banking operations.
Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) FUNDS IN POST OFFICES SOON
Racing against time to make the ambitious Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) visibly effective before the 2014 general elections, the government will bring money transaction through post offices under the DBT ambit. This desperate move is aimed as a remedy to banks opening accounts of DBT beneficiaries at snail’s pace.
Ahead of the Prime Minister’s review meeting with key ministers, the government announced that post offices will also be included from October 1 while three pension schemes — for old age persons, widows and the disabled — would now be covered under DBT from July 1. The list would also include districts where the beneficiaries’ biometrics were collected under the National Population Register (NPR). They include Odisha, West Bengal, UP, Uttarakhand,
Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
Several complaints had poured in after the scheme was launched from January 1 about the problems of the banks to open zero-balance accounts of the beneficiaries, especially in rural areas.
The government also targets to expand the DBT to cover 78 more districts in the next phase of the DBT rollout which will begin from July 1.
To plug the loopholes, PM’s focus will be on digitisation of databases and opening of more bank accounts. “There will be a thrust on digitisation of data of beneficiaries in all districts, irrespective of the rollout of DBT as this is a critical activity which need not wait and can be done in parallel,” said a press release.
“The department of financial services will be asked to ensure coverage of all beneficiaries with bank accounts. It will ensure that all Micro-ATMs that are procured will have specifications such that they are inter-operable and are Aadhaar enabled,” the release added.