The company is to offer a fully functioning payment account that would include debit cards, full access to ATM and point-of-sale facilities.
It is also planning to allow new current account customers to set up standing orders and direct debits.
An Post’s payment accounts, it emerged, would be accessible over the internet, by phone, and by using an app.
In an interim report of the Post Office Network Business Development Group published in May last, financial services were recognised as fundamental to the future viability of the network.
“Our plans for an affordable and accessible payment account with banking features are well advanced and we continue to work with the Departments of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, and Social Protection in this regard,” a statement from An Post read.
The head of corporate communications at An Post, Anna McHugh, said yesterday it was “early stages” for the initiative.
“We have a network sec-ond to none with the very latest technology behind the counters and very experienced staff so this is something we’ve been working on,” she added.
According to the interim report, it is expected the payment account will be rolled out in early 2016.
Dermott Jewell of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland said An Post’s plans demonstrate a positive move.
“An Post have a great name and a great reputation so they’re coming from a position of strength and they just need to make the right offer and I think they really could see some good strong take-up,” he said.
The Irish Postmasters Union also welcomed the news by An Post.
However, they stated last week’s announcement by Bank of Ireland to restrict over-the-counter withdrawals and lodgements highlighted more clearly than ever the need for a new arm of banking which is citizen and socially focused.
The IPU general secretary, Ned O’Hara, criticised Bank Of Ireland’s policy changes, citing it as an “unpopular step” and said the changes will impact heavily on people and small businesses.
“Banks and post offices are very different. Banks are driven by a commercial mandate. They are moving away from face-to-face branch services and dealing with smaller transactions from citizens or local businesses. Where will this leave many people and small businesses?
“The post office is built around the needs of the community. A post office-based banking service will support financial inclusion.
“It can meet the needs of those on welfare who transact in smaller amounts, local business who have regular smaller lodgements and older people many of whom want to transact in person.”
However, the postmasters group warned that a post office banking service should not be seen as a solution for the current challenges faced by An Post.