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No distance left to run: India Post shutters the traditional money order service


As Bob Dylan would croak, “oh the times they are-a changing”. India Post is quietly retiring its traditional money order service which facilitated pan-India door-delivery of funds to a payee from over 155,000 post offices, reports IANS. Shikha Mathur Kumar, the deputy director general for finance confirmed to the publication and added that India Post will be pushing the electronic money orders (eMO) and instant money orders (iMO).

The iMO is a web-based money transfer service which allows remittances of  amounts from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 between two resident individuals in the country. Once the remittance form is filled in,  a printed receipt along with computer generated confidential 16 digit iMO number is given to the sender who has to share the iMO number with the beneficiary over SMS, email or phone at his risk. The beneficiary needs to fill up a form along with the number received and collect the money from a post office. The money can also be directly remitted to a bank savings account.

The eMO money is paid at the door-step of a payee – from Rs. 1 to Rs. 5,000 – within a day. eMOs can be booked at an authorised post office and delivered pan-India from all delivery post offices. This can also be tracked on the India Post website.

Payments bank and other services

The discontinuation of the traditional money order service comes in the back drop that India Post has applied for a payments bank licence. India Post’s delivery service probably has the widest reach in India, with over 1.5 lakh post offices across 25,000 pin codes, but it probably will have to improve a lot in terms of efficiency. But it does have a trump up its sleeve as most people are trust the postal service and are familiar with a postman in the hinterlands which could aid in financial inclusion.

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That said there are many payment solutions which are popping up which is looking to leverage the large mobile network in the country. One of them which we’re looking forward to is the NPCI’s unified payments interface which should provide interoperability between different payment services. For example a MobiKwik  user can transfer money from a digital wallet to a HDFC Bank account.

It’s also interesting to note that the top telecom operators in the country, Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone and Idea, have also announced their plans for a payments bank. Idea, for example, last year launched Idea Money will apparently allow Idea subscribers to conduct various transactions like prepaid mobile recharges, DTH recharges, utility bill payments and postpaid bill payments among others. It will also enable them to make money transfers to another Idea Money customer or through NEFT.

Airtel’s mobile money service Airtel Money is possibly the largest player in the country at the moment. The company had reported an active base of 1.7 million users in India in Q4-FY14 while the total number of transactions was at 38 million for the quarter and the total amount transacted was at Rs 1,364.2 crore.

Banks too have gotten very interested in the payments space and ICICI Bank launched Pockets which allows for payments over using a person’s mobile number. HDFC Bank too has a similar product called Chillr. Kotak Mahindra Bank has KayPay which allows payments using social media credentials. Kotak Bank also has Mail Money which allows its customers to send money via email.

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