Saturday 17 March 2018

An Post plans to take on banks with new current accounts

An Post aims to offer debit cards, full access to ATMs and point-of-sale facilities
An Post aims to offer debit cards, full access to ATMs and point-of-sale facilities
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Post offices will take on the banks with the launch of a new current account early next year.

The move means that more than 1,000 post offices nationwide are set to challenge the dominance of the main banks by offering better-value payment accounts.

However, the time it has taken to roll out the new transactions account has prompted backbench TD Áine Collins to call for the resignation of An Post's chief executive.

Ms Collins, a Cork-based Fine Gael deputy, said she was two years communicating with An Post management on its plans to offer day-to-day transaction accounts. She said An Post boss Donal Connell should resign if his organisation does not soon deliver electronic banking.

"An Post needs to be moving with the times, securing add- itional services for our rural communities and, in turn, securing the future of this vital economic and social resource. If the management are incap- able of doing this, I believe they should consider their position and resign."

A spokeswoman for Mr Connell had no comment to make on the resignation call.

However, it is understood that An Post has been trying to speed up its plans to widen its financial services offering, but has been hit by delays at government level. An Post aims to offer debit cards, full access to ATMs and point-of-sale facilities. It is also planning to allow its new current account customers to set up standing orders and direct debits from the new account. Also planned are budgeting facilities as part of the account, allowing people to spread out bills over a year.

In keeping with moves to electronic banking, An Post's payment account would be accessible over the internet, by phone and by using an app.

The move comes after uproar following Bank of Ireland's decision to limit cash withdrawals and lodgements in its 250 branches.

But An Post has no plans to restrict cash lodgements and withdrawals at post office counters.

This could make the new payment account attractive to those uncomfortable with self-service banking.

An Post has been trying to get back into consumer banking since Belgium bank Fortis pulled out of a joint venture with it, called Postbank, in 2010.

Post offices currently offer banking services for customers of AIB and Ulster Bank.

Providing banking services through post offices was recommended in a report compiled for Communications Minister Alex White in May by a committee headed by entrepreneur Bobby Kerr.

A spokeswoman for An Post said: "Our plans for an afford- able and accessible payment acc- ount with banking features are well advanced and we continue to work with the Departments of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Social Protection in this regard."

Irish Independent

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