A customer uses a hand sanitizer before entering the India Post branch at Nandini Layout, Bengaluru.   -  Somashekar G R N

Eyes higher e-commerce and payments bank business

India Post is entrenching itself further in Bharat (the hinterland) by stepping up network expansion to tap the rising demand for e-commerce and financial services.

As per its latest annual report (FY20), India Post (also know as the Department of Posts) opened 1,119 rural post offices (RPOs) in FY19, the highest in the last five years, against 815 in FY18 and 112 in FY17 .

Simultaneously, the number of urban post offices (UPOs) came down by 50 in FY19 against 249 in FY18 and 57 in FY17.

As of March-end 2019, the RPOs and UPOs stood at 1,41,001 (1,39,882 as of March-end 2018) and 15,599 (15,649), respectively.

So, as of March-end 2019, India Post, with a network of 1,56,600 post-offices, had a bigger on-the-ground presence across the country vis-a-vis the branches (1,45,426) of all scheduled commercial banks put together.

Even though India has the largest postal network in the world, there continues to be a demand for opening of post offices, the postal department said.

The Department of Posts (DoP) wants to develop infrastructure, including post offices, and those relating to transportation and delivery of parcels/packets with online payment or cash on delivery, to extend the reach of the e-commerce industry to Tier II & III towns as well as to rural areas.
Payments Bank

The deposits (current account, savings account) of India Post Payments Bank’s (IPPB) as of December-end 2019 swelled to ₹527.15 crore from ₹94.40 crore as of March-end 2019, as per the report.

Each post office functions both as a postal outlet and an access point for the Payments Bank. IPPB was set up in 2016 as a public limited company with 100 per cent government equity under DoP.

The bank primarily focusses on serving social sector beneficiaries, migrant labourers, unorganised sector employees, Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), low-income households, and the unbanked and under-banked segments in both the rural and urban areas.

IPPB’s product suite includes savings account and current account; money transfer; direct benefit transfer; distribution of third-party products; bill and utility payments; and enterprise and merchant payments