Postmasters welcome plans for citizen’s banking through Post Offices

11 November 2015.

Postmasters have welcomed plans to use the Post Office Network to provide people and citizen’s focused banking services – as banks force customers to ATMs or online.

The IPU has today welcomed public confirmation by An Post that it is at an advanced stage of planning a banking service and said the Post Office Network is ideally suited to deliver it due to it’s community base of 1,110 Offices, it’s customer profile and it’s up to date technology.

The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said last week’s announcement by Bank of Ireland to move smaller transactions to ATMs, or online, highlighted more clearly than ever before the need for a new arm of banking which is citizen and socially focused.

IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said: “Banks and Post Offices are very different. Banks are driven by a commercial mandate. They are moving away from face-to-face branch services and dealing with smaller transactions from citizens or local businesses. Bank of Ireland took an unpopular step last week – and it is likely that over time the other banks will follow that trend. Where will this leave many people and small businesses?”

“The Post Office is built around the needs of the community. A Post Office based banking service will support financial inclusion. It can meet the needs of those on welfare who transact in smaller amounts, local business who have regular smaller lodgments and older people many of whom want to transact in person.”

However, the IPU warned that a Post Office banking service should not be seen as a panacea for the current challenges faced by the Post Office Network. “Banking would help to keep some customers within the Post Office service, instead of moving to the banks, and also bring some spin-off benefits. However, it is the ability to provide face-to-face transactions, such as Social Protection Payments, that is critical for Post Offices to remain viable. Also sanctioning new services such as Motor Tax and Drivers License Renewal is critical”, Mr. O’Hara said.

The IPU has been involved in the Post Office Business Development Group, chaired by Bobby Kerr, since early this year. The Groups’ report is due for publication shortly. The IPU has welcomed the work of the group as an opportunity to secure Social Protection transactions and inject new services and vision into the Network’s future.

IPU President Paddy McCann said: “Post Offices have served Ireland very well for generations. Postmasters are ready and able to support the Government to keep essential services in the community and support local economies and jobs. Our Post Office Network is a National Assert and we should fully use it.”

The IPU had recently presented the Minister for Communications with half a million petition signatures, from people all across the country, calling on the Government to better support and utilise Post Offices.

“We hope that the Bobby Kerr Report will fully reflect the will of the people in its recommendations and implementation plan”, Paddy McCann added.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.