India Post pact with Amex to sell TCs

New Delhi, January 25: | Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Department of Posts (DoP) on Friday entered into an agreement with American Express for selling and encashing travellers’ cheques issued by American Express at designated Speed Post offices.

India Post will sell American Express travellers’ cheques in select post offices, DoP secretary BN Som said. Initially, 253 post offices has been identified, mainly in the metro cities, and the facility would be extended to other cities soon. It also signed an agreement with HCL on Thursday to book computers and Nokia cellphones through post offices.

India Post already has partnerships with Western Union, IDBI Bank, Prudential ICICI, SBI Mutual Fund, UTI Bank, MasterCard and Standard Chartered Bank. With the Amex tie-up, DoP will be dealing with foreign exchange also.

The total travellers’ cheque market in India is estimated at around $800 million. AmEx vice-president, India and Area Countries, Rajan Bhat said its TCs accounted for over 50 per cent of the market share. The market in India was growing at an annual 18 per cent compound rate, and the tie-up with DoP would make its TCs more accessible to both inbound and outbound travellers. Sale of AmEx TCs would begin in March after the postal staff identified by DoP was trained in dealing with the business. The cheques would be issued and accepted in all nine AmEx TC currencies. The memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of communications and IT minister Pramod Mahajan.

Later, DoP chief general manager RS Nataraja Murti said hoped to wipe out the department’s deficit over the next five years by supplementing its revenues with higher fee-based income. He said the department had put in place a backbone of 220 VSATs that were networked to another 2,000 extended terminals. The department aimed at computerising 15,000 outlets in five years, and proposed to convert post offices into veritable supermarkets.

It even planned to offer e-billing to public utilities to use its electronic payment systems to print and distribute their consumer bills, accept payments and send back advice of payments as well.