This morning while reading about the Joy in Oxenhope, UK from the promise of a Post Office at the Co-op store, I was reminded of the critical importance of innovations in retail payments, not only to the unbanked and the under-banked in developing and emerging countries but to people in some of the most developed countries in the world such as Europe, the Americas and Australia. Oxenhope is not by far in the remotest region of the UK (See figure), and closing down of post offices is a regrettable and seemingly unavoidable trend that should be of concern world-wide.
A large part of the long awaited services that are to be offered by the Post Office in Oxenhope involve money, including online banking, cash deposits, tax disc registration and withdrawals, pension transactions. Post offices offer an important outlet for Government services, such as cashing Green Giros and paying for fishing licences, as well as allowing customers to top up mobile phones, pay bills and pre-order foreign currency.
Around the world it is becoming increasingly costly to support brick-and-mortar branches, and post offices play a critical role in offering basic financial services. In sub-Saharan Africa over 80% of post offices are located outside the most populated cities – as 82.5% of populated live there.
The time is now for post offices to reinvent themselves and adopt a central role in the newly developing Digital Money ecosystem. In subsequent posts we’ll focus on some of the hero services around the world that are, maybe not at the foot of the mountain, but still somewhere near Base Camp 2.