The postal department’s new service of delivering money home — with the postman acting as a human ATM — has turned out to be a big hit countrywide, with more than one lakh transactions being recorded across India on a daily basis, according to a top official.
The service began shortly before the COVID-19-forced lockdown was imposed in late March but back then the number of transactions merely stood at double digits. Its demand soared in the following weeks, when people were stranded home but needed cash to buy essentials.
This free service allows people to withdraw — through the postman — up to Rs. 10,000 at a time from any of their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts. The postman carries a portable biometric device to match fingerprints. All a person needs to do is to use the Postinfo app or simply call the local post office or spot the postman. Every postman typically carries Rs. 50,000-Rs. 60,000 in cash and in case he has run out of money he can deliver the following day.
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are among the States where this service has turned out to be most popular, with more and more elderly and people living in rural areas availing of it.
“The post office has always been a cash distribution leader and this work comes naturally to us, only that we are now using the digital platform,” Amitabh Singh, Postmaster General (Kolkata Circle), told The Hindu. According to him, West Bengal alone records, on an average, about 10,000 transactions a day, and on certain days the number climbs up to even 20,000.
Limitations no deterrent
The service has been catching on at a time when the postal department itself is facing limitations due to the spread of COVID-19 and the series of lockdowns. “Attendance has been hit, and we are outsourcing staff for loading and unloading of mail bags, driving of parcel vans, sorting of mails,” Mr. Singh said.
In spite of the limitations, the department carried out a special delivery of rakhis in all districts. It has also been reaching monthly pension to those eligible during the lockdown period, he added.