Australia Post boss Christine Holgate wants the 209-year-old institution to play a bigger role in providing banking services, but says she needs more money from the banks to do so.
The call comes after a new report by Deloitte Access Economics found Australia Post contributes $6 billion to the economy by providing a host of services, including 376 million annual transactions for customers of 70 financial firms, including the big four banks.
Ms Holgate says Australia Post loses money on providing banking services that include cash deposits and withdrawals, money transfers and bill payments – many of which are of vital importance to people living in the 1500 communities that don’t have bank branch.
While Ms Holgate isn’t interested in Australia Post obtaining a banking licence, she is in talks with the banks about them paying more for the services post offices provide on their behalf and expanding into opening and closing accounts.
“We can become the teller of the nation and be a trusted place,” Ms Holgate told AAP.
“We don’t have to be the banks. They can be the engine rooms as they’ve got all the systems in place, but we have the people, the people the community trust, and we’re still there.”
The Deloitte Access Economics Report found that post offices undertake $12.6 billion worth of [email protected] transactions and $34.9 billion in Post Billpay transactions annually.
Ms Holgate said that given more than half of Australia’s 4379 retail post offices are in regional and remote areas, it makes sense for them to provide a wider range of banking services at a time when so many bank branches have closed.
“With the banking royal commission there looks like there’s a lot of more regulation coming to make it fairer for customers and if that’s the case then maybe that’s an opportunity for Australia Post to represent them,” she said.
“All I ask is, given they make a profit of somewhere between $6 billion and $10 billion, that we get paid fairly for doing what we’re doing for them.”
Ms Holgate commissioned the Deloitte Access Economics report not long after taking on the top job at Australia Post last October and beginning a strategic review of the business, which has been weathering dramatic falls in letter deliveries and revenues, as well as staff cuts.
The report found that 92 per cent of Australians have visited a post office in the past six months.
And while most will have a mail-related reason for going to the post office, Australia Post also provides services on behalf of 750 businesses and government agencies.
The report found it also facilitates 82 per cent of the nation’s $14 billion e-commerce market, with most customers relying on the organisation to receive parcels.