The India Post Kerala Circle, which is shifting its focus to technology-enabled citizen-centric services, is planning to launch more over-the-counter services to the public in partnership with the local bodies.

The Postal Department, which has already entered into an agreement with the State government on e-payment of local body taxes, is now planning to seek the concurrence of the government to open extension counters at post offices for issuing marriage, birth, and death certificates.

Citizen-centric

Speaking to The Hindu on the occasion of the National Postal Week celebrations, Chief Postmaster General Shobha Koshy said on Sunday that e-services and citizen-centric services would be the next big push of the department.

“We are investing a lot in technology. By December, all the 1,057 departmental post offices in Kerala will be computerised. The idea is that people will not have to go beyond their nearest computerised post office for these services,” she said.

Ms. Koshy said that as part of expanding its e-payment services, the department would also hold discussions with Kerala Water Authority and Kerala State Electricity Board.

“We have made a tie-up with Adharva Associates, a financial consultant for various mobile companies, which will act as our gateway for e-payment of phone bills. We already have a tie-up with BSNL. Now we are trying to talk to schools for e-payment of fees,” she said.

Departmental post offices will soon offer e-ticketing services also, enabling electronic booking of air and bus tickets. The department has inked a deal with ARMI Software Solutions for the purpose.

Cutting-edge technology

Core banking facility in 165 post offices, debit cards for savings bank account holders, and ATM counters are some of the other projects on the anvil. Computerisation of all departmental post offices is also expected to provide a major boost for the department's e-based products such as Electronic Post (E Post), Electronic Money Order (MO), Instant Money Order, and MO Videsh.

“These are actually upgraded versions of India Post's old products which we have made more relevant with the introduction of new technologies. E Post, for example, is the next-generation telegram where the message is electronically generated and sent via broadband internet to the delivery post office, from where it is delivered to the addressee by the postman,” Ms. Koshy explained.

“The difference between an email and an E Post is that this is more authenticated in case of official communication as a hard copy is handed over to the recipient through the Postal Department,” she said, adding that the Chief Minister's office was one of the first customers of E Post.

Tracking and tracing

Improving delivery is also of high priority for the department which already has a barcode-based track-and-trace system for speed post. The department will soon launch Radio Frequency Identification Technology for tracking speed posts and registered posts.

Ms. Koshy said India Post had now initiated an ambitious project to provide computers and connectivity to extra-departmental branch post offices as well. Kerala Circle has 3,561 branch post offices.

“With this, each and every transaction in the postal department will come online and no post office that doesn't have connectivity will exist after this project,” Ms. Koshy said. India Post has already hired Accenture to design the IT architecture for its network.

“In Kerala, we are not planning to get into too much of retail servicing because it is not in our character and there is no physical need for retail services in the State. Here we are trying to leverage our reach and make the post office socially relevant by harnessing technology and providing value-added services,” she said.