NEW DELHI: Department of Post (DoP) will soon approach Reserve Bank for interoperability of its ATMs with commercial banks as it looks to roll out 10,000 ATMs across the country by the end of this year. A DoP official told PTI that Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked the department to take the proposal to RBI on priority basis as it will help in popularising banking in rural areas.
he official added that India Post will be rolling out 10,000 ATMs and 20,000 micro ATMs across the country by the end of this year. Interoperability of postal ATMs will help people to withdraw money from their bank accounts also. Currently, such ATMs can be used if people have an account in DoP.
The government wants to leverage the vast network of India Post for implementing the mandate of financial inclusion and it has received renewed momentum from the Budget recommendations. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced in his Budget speech for 2016-17 that to provide better access to financial services, especially in rural areas, the government will undertake a massive nationwide rollout of ATMs and micro ATMs in post offices over the next three years. DoP has already announced plans to open 1,000 ATMs by March.
India Post has more than 576 ATMs across the country and has also overtaken the State Bank of India to become India's largest core banking network having 18,231 branches.
By March, all the 25,000 departmental post offices would offer anywhere banking facilities using core banking solutions. As on February, India Post has issued 1,26,181 ATM/debit cards to its account holders.
The Public Investment Board has already approved the Rs 800-crore proposal from India Post for setting up a payments bank. PIB, under the Finance Ministry, vets the investment proposals by state-run entities.
The department is also in the process of finalising selection of a consultant for setting up of the India Post payments bank. India Post payments bank will primarily target unbanked and under-banked customers in rural, semi-rural and remote areas, with a focus on providing simple deposit products and money remittance services.
The pilot for the payments bank is set to start from January and the full-fledged operations may start by March 2017. As many as 40 international financial conglomerates including World Bank and Barclays have shown interest to partner the postal department for setting up the bank.
Reserve Bank has granted payments bank permit to the department, which is already into providing financial services and has 1.55 lakh branches across the country.