An Post fills bank void
Following on from the announcement by AIB and Permanent TSB to close a number of branches in Cork city and county, the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) has welcomed a new arrangement to increase services for AIB customers.
AIB is to close seven branches and sub offices in Cork as part of a transformation and cost reduction programme, with services being transferred from Mayfield, Innishannon, Passage West, Ballydehob, Buttevant, Schull and Newmarket.
However, the areas affected will see a wider range of services become available in local post offices, including cash lodgments, withdrawals, credit card paying services, cheque lodgements and deposit account transactions.
“Every post office in the country, from largest to smallest, now has the same high standard of computer system and is capable to delivering these services,” said IPU President, Sean Maher.
“We have the infrastructure to deliver a quality and cost effective service for AIB - and all banks - and the post office can help to keep services local. AIB has recognised the potential for providing more financial services through post offices and we welcome this. However, there is no barrier to these services becoming available in all offices.
An independent Review, The Future of the Post Office Network in Ireland, carried out earlier this year by Grant Thornton, showed that providing additional banking services a post offices could save banks €4.4m over a five year period.
Meanwhile, Worker’s Party city councillor Ted Tynan has called on the Government to instruct An Post to use it's branches to set up full retail banking in opposition to the commercial banks and their closures recently.
“In recent years people have been encouraged and in some cases even forced, to use banking services to receive payments of Social Welfare, Pensions, Children’s Allowance and other State payments and most workers are paid by means of credit transfers to their bank rather than by cash or cheque,” said Cllr Tynan.
“Many use banks to pay utility bills by direct debit and are sometimes charged more by service providers if they do not. Therefore most of the population are locked into the banking system whether they like it or not. Now that the banks have most of the population as customers they propose to abandon large numbers of their customers by closing the local bank branch in many areas.”
Cllr Tynan also highlighted the hesitation of people to use internet banking, especially those who do not have access to internet services.
“An Post should be asked to expand from it's Savings Banks services to a full retail bank and use it's extensive network of branches to service those people who will be deprived of banking services by the decision of the commercial banks to close down local branches.”