Foreign exchange is just one service that local post offices are leading the way on, according to Minister for Communications Denis Naughten. “Many people looking for foreign exchange, particularly at this time of year, traditionally associate it with banks but this is quickly changing as local post offices are expanding their foreign exchange and banking services across the country,” said Minister Naughten.
“After going to four separate banks, I was able to get US dollars in my local post office, and without any commission.”
“This is what a member of the public recently told me about her experience of trying to buy foreign exchange and ultimately accessing a service that she didn’t know was available in her post office. This is the reality of the expanding role of the local Post Office network right across the country. Local village post offices are now selling Sterling and US Dollars in cash as well as providing these currencies along with Canadian Dollars and Australian Dollars on currency cards.
“So while some banks on the ground are turning away foreign exchange customers, local post offices are expanding their banking services. Soon post offices will be offering personal loans and credit cards for customers in addition to the existing An Post Smart current account starting next year.
“Local post offices are also becoming the One-Stop-Shop for more Government services, such as motor tax through a new pilot ‘Digital Assist’ project which I will be officially launching this month. ‘Digital Assist’ will use the local post office as a digital gateway for Government business. It is expected this project will be expanded to cover many more online services for people who may be uncomfortable using the internet without assistance,” added Minister Naughten.
“Through the Digital Assist project, local village post offices will be able to provide the full range of online Government services as well as a range of other services such as airline bookings or online payment services. In addition to this our rural post office network is becoming the backbone for ‘out of home’ e-commerce in Ireland specifically for parcel pickup and drop off. Householders can use their local post office as their virtual address via AddressPal for international orders and in tandem with this eLocal is currently being piloted in Ennis, Bantry and Mullingar. eLocal is a combined e-commerce and home delivery service from An Post aimed at giving local businesses the edge over national and international online operators by connecting retailers with their customers both online and in person. It provides a ‘click and next day delivery service’ for businesses to local customers while providing retailers with an online presence by displaying their goods and services and enabling orders. eLocal will eventually be rolled out across the country,” said the Minister.
“Business supports don’t end there as An Post is also currently exploring a go-to-market strategy for SME loans and it has been in discussion with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and other providers to explore how to satisfy the unmet demands of this sector,” confirmed Minister Naughten.
“A strategic link with the Local Enterprise Boards will enhance a broad proposition for SMEs and An Post is working with other Government agencies and departments to explore how post offices can become an advice hub for local SMEs.
“In order to deliver what is a very new local village and rural post office that will attract a broad range of new customers, a €50million investment underpins this plan. This is equivalent to €45,000 per post office to ensure a very bright sustainable future for our local post office,” concluded Minister Denis Naughten