The country's first Post Office Savings Bank ATM was inaugurated in Chennai on Thursday by Finance Minister P Chidambaram as a part of the government's Rs 4,909- crore (Rs 49.09-billion) IT modernisation scheme for the Department of Posts.
After launching the ATM service at Thiyagaraya Nagar Head Post Office, Chidambaram said that Rs 4,909 crore had been allocated for the IT modernisation of Department of Posts in the interim budget for 2014-15.
"The IT modernisation scheme is aimed at making Department of Posts a completely technology-oriented one and today's initiative is a step in that regard," he said.
The IT modernisation scheme would cover 155,000 post offices and would be implemented by next year, he added.
Speaking about the newly launched automated teller machine service at the HPO, Chidambaram said that while it will initially operate in a closed environment for about six months, it will later change to 'inter-operability,' on the lines of bank ATMs, allowing customers to withdraw money from any ATM.
About Department of Posts, Chidambaram said that while questions were being raised about its future, especially in the wake of dip in use of letters and postcards, it was adopting new strategies and was therefore on the growth path.
Still a large number of people believe that Department of Posts is the best in courier and parcel delivery areas, he added.
An official statement said the T Nagar HPO ATM is the first in the country and "four more ATMs are ready for operations" in Delhi and Mumbai.
"It is proposed to install 1,000 ATMs across the country in 2014. “Another 1,800 ATMs will be added in 2015," it said.
It added that Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) has been earmarked for implementing Core Banking Solution for Post office Savings Bank. As on date, 51 HPOs and 11 Sub-post offices have ‘migrated’ covering 64 lakh (6.4 million) accounts.
By March 31, 2014, a total of 700 more post offices will be covered and all 26,840 post offices will be functional under CBS in another two years, it said.
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