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Customers should be able to bank on Post Offices

Customers should be able to bank on Post Offices

Category: Banking

Updated: 14/12/2012
First Published: 31/08/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

All UK banks are being put under pressure to allow their customers full access to personal bank accounts through the Post Office network.

A report by Consumer Focus suggests that such a move could see the number of people that use their local Post Office to access their current accounts rise dramatically.

Around four million customers, from across the vast majority of high street banks, are estimated to already use the 11,800 strong Post Office network to access some current account services.

Amongst the banks to offer full services at Post Office branches include Halifax, Lloyds TSB, Co-operative Bank and Bank of Ireland, while the likes of Barclays, First Direct, Nationwide and Natwest allow for some transactions to take place.

However, currently all HSBC and most Santander customers, totalling one in five UK current account holders, remain unable to undertake any transactions over the Post Office counter.

Of the leading banks that do offer services at the Post Office many don't offer Post Office customers the full range of transactions, for example they may be able to withdraw money but not make a deposit or check their account balance.

But with a change to a universal system whereby all customers could access their accounts and a publicity drive, it is estimated that there would be potential for 18 million customers to use the system.

"Our research shows there is real consumer appetite to do everyday banking over the Post Office counter," said Andy Burrows, Post Office expert at Consumer Focus.

"Four out of five people were unaware they could access their account through a Post Office with two-fifths of this group telling us they would consider doing so if they knew it was possible.

"Thousands of UK communities have only one bank branch or even none at all, with more bank closures likely in the future.

"Better current account access at the Post Office would be a win-win situation - customers enjoy the convenience of more face-to-face counter access and the Post Office network benefits from greater footfall. This should help lead to a more sustainable future for the Post Office network which many people rely upon."

Reacting to the call to open up the Post Office network to all bank customers, the British Bankers' Association said: "Some banks have individual arrangements with the Post Office that enable customers with other types of accounts to use Post Office counters for their banking.

"This is a separate commercial arrangement made between those individual banks and the Post Office.

"While banking through the Post Office is one channel of access to banking services, most day to day transactions can be made through telephone, internet or postal banking, or of course through an ATM."

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