India’s postal agency is one step closer to installing its own ATMs as part of an attempt to make use of its reach and huge deposit base and become a larger financial-services player.

The agency has identified 23 large post offices in the state of Rajasthan as the initial locations where it will deploy the machines, a spokesperson for India Post tells PaymentsSource.

Last July, India Post, the country’s national postal service, had announced plans to install 1,000 ATMs at various post offices across the country by the end of March 2012 (see story). But the plans hit a wall when the Reserve Bank of India reportedly said it did not support allowing India Post to set up ATMs because the country’s banking laws allow only banks to deploy the machines (see story).

However, because the central bank has not issued an official communiqué expressing such a concern, the postal agency plans to commence with the deployments in five states, starting with Rajasthan, the spokesperson says.

“These ATMs will initially set up the ATMs in Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur regions,” he says. “The ATMs will be installed on the premises of branch offices, and the facility will be available only for savings accountholders.”

India Post will offer cash-withdrawal services only at the ATMs located at its post offices but eventually may extend them to other ATMs, such as those deployed by public-sector banks, the spokesperson adds.

“We are in the process of finalizing the companies for technical support,” he says. “Before opening it for the public nationwide, we will run it on a trial basis for six months to iron out glitches.”

India Post says it supports some 30 million savings accounts serviced by nearly 155,000 branches across the country. It plans to set up a subsidiary, Post Bank of India, to provide banking facilities.

The postal service says it plans to introduce ATMs, debit cards and core banking services by the end of this year under an information-technology modernization program estimated to be worth US$410 million (296 million euros).

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