Tukaram Dinabandhu never had a bank account. He hailed from a small village
in Jharkhand and white-washed houses in Delhi to earn a living for himself and
for his family. Not having knowledge of Western Union Money Transfer, or the
likes, every month he availed the age old money order service of the Indian
Postal Department which entailed a long process and took days to reach his
village in the interiors of the country.
But times have changed now. It now takes only a few hours for the money to
reach his family. Thanks to the post office's electronic money transfer
services, called e-Money Order (e-MO). This method transfers money in 24-48
hours as against the five to seven days taken by the conventional money order
e-MO is not the only change happening at the neighborhood post office;
extensive use of technology by the postal department is making lives of many
Indians much more simpler.
The recent change of logo for a fresh one supplements the air of freshness
that has enveloped the Indian postal services. The new logo, unveiled in
September last year, aims to give the postal service a corporate look and
reflects its new approach towards business an approach which shall aim to
leverage technology to connect the nation better. The new logo is that of a bird
in flight, done in bold colors like red and yellow.
However vast and well connected our postal network might be, it has always
been wrought by deficiencies and huge inconsistencies. A lot of it can be
attributed to the fact that India is a multi-dialect country, which writes in
numerous languages-be it books, blogs or letters. That doesn't make the job of
the post office any easier. Often, there is a problem of deciphering what is
written and even a minor alphabetical or writing error can run havoc with the
journey of the letter.
Then, there is the problem of stamping and pin codes. According to a survey
done by India Post, pin code is mentioned on about 65 percent of the total mail
that India Post handles. Out of this around 10 percent are non-decipherable. And
as most of the mail is hand-written, (only around five percent of the total
volume is in the typed format) it further accelerates the problem. And it is no
news that our postal services have been synonymous with delays and
misplacements, from money orders to accounts to letters.
And thus the postal services are displaying the digitization drive. Most
solutions for India Post, have been developed by National Informatics Center (NIC).
It finally dawned upon the government that it can exploit the reach and
penetration of the postal network to offer instant, secure and hassle-free
transfer and payment of funds. Its Instant Money Order (iMO), also known as
electronic money transfer and e-payment services are steps in this direction.
|At the inception stage, around
2,500 post offices all over the country have switched over to electronic
transmission of money orders
iMO is one of the most important services that India Post offers. This
instant on-line money transfer service is a speedy, safe and reliable option for
transferring money. It is an instant web-based money transfer service through
post offices (iMO centers) in India between two resident individuals in the
Indian territory. It enables money transfer of amounts ranging from Rs 1,000 to
Rs 50,000 from designated iMO post offices.
India Post has revamÂped the money order service and introduced an electronic
mode for faster remittance of money. This move would reduce transmission of
vouchers from one place to another and provide for a centralized information
system on the money order service. It is also proving to have an immense impact
in terms of cost-saving by India Post.
Here, after the form is filled and submitted with money at iMO post office
counter, the counter clerk books the iMO immediately and hands over a printed
receipt with a computer generated confidential 16-digit iMO number in a sealed
condition. The 16-digit iMO number will not be known to the booking clerk also.
The customer is required to tear off the seal and convey the confidential
16-digit iMO number to the intended recipient over phone, SMS, email, etc at his
means and risk.
At the inception stage, around 2,500 post offices all over the country have
switched over to electronic transmission of money orders. Obviously, the booking
facilities for this instant money order would be available at post offices where
wide area connectivity or broadband connectivity is available. Once the process
stabilizes, the department may consider enhancing the maximum limit of
ePayment is another service that leverages the tremendous reach of India
Post. This department specializes in accepting across the counter payments and
consolidating the same. It is a 'Many to One' service through which bills like
telephone, electricity etc, paid by customers in post offices are electronically
consolidated and transferred.
Here the post office collects bill payments from customers on the behalf of
service providers or billers such as BSNL, Airtel, RTOs, etc. The post office
then issues a receipt to the customer and accounts for the transaction. The
collection data is updated into a central server and is accessible to the biller
through a web interface. The accounts are consolidated electronically and the
amount is paid to the service provider at one point, which is convenient.
The postal department of India is determined to utilize the miracle called
the Internet as much as it can. Its ambitious agenda includes taking the
Internet into rural areas.
The state of Jharkhand is already rolling on the digital mode and artisans in
Raghurajpur village of Orissa are now connected to the world through the
Internet, thanks to the state transport bus, which is fitted with a Wi-Fi box.
The United Villages concept is also called the Daknet or Internet Post, and
the bus is like a postman. It connects 25 remote villages in Orissa to already
Then there is ePost, which enables any hand-written message, photograph or
simple text message to be sent between ePost centers (post offices) all across
the country. These messages can then be downloaded at the addressed ePost center
and delivered by the postman to the recipient. The service can also be availed
by an individual from their home or office or by purchasing a prepaid card from
the post office.
To ensure maximum coverage, ePost centers have been set up in the post
offices, covering all the districts and major towns. These ePost centers are
equipped with an Internet connection, computers, printers and other necessary
The postal department has much more on its plate. This includes providing
franking services online, enabling easy loans from post offices (a tie up with
SBI has already been established in rural Punjab), new look for rural post
offices and even payment of NREGA wages via e-payment mechanism.
Let's hope that all the ambitious plans for our very own dak khana don't get
engulfed in corruption and bribery, which can be quite an ailment in this