A GROWING pervasiveness of mobile devices and the rise of other digital technologies have changed the postal landscape. The business of the post was to deliver letters to business and citizens. But for small innovations such as air mail and express mail and the introduction of postal codes, there have been hardly any changes in the system for centuries. The adoption of technological innovation in Bangladesh in the later days of the past century has opened up new fronts, allowed private players to have emerged on the communications scenes and has mounted pressure on the post to remain competitive. The postal service, which has almost declined to a great extent now in Bangladesh, has come to face another threat from financial transactions through mobile devices. The Bangladesh Post Office was used to electronically transfer Tk 1.18 billion in the 2017 financial year while the figure was about Tk 22.64 billion in the 2012 financial year. The decline is said to have been caused by the introduction of mobile banking in 2013. In view of the situation, the Bangladesh Post Office sought the finance ministry’s approval for a proposal for drastic cuts on money transfer fees.
The fee for the electronic transfer of the highest amount of Tk 50,000 through the post office has been proposed at Tk 250 from the existing Tk 925 and for the transfer of the lowest amount of Tk 1,000 at Tk 10 from the existing Tk 18.50, which is half the amount mobile banking agents charge. This clearly suggests that the Post Office, in this age of digital innovation, is trying to run its services by cutting down on fees, which the director general of the department, as New Age reported on Sunday, says would not decrease the income of the Post Office. The director general is further reported to have said that it is imperative for the authorities to reduce fees for the survival of the electronic money transfer. But what more the Post Office should attend to is the modernisation of the services that it offers and the introduction of more innovative services for citizens by improving its operational infrastructure at marginal cost for postal administration. The Post Office, at the same time, needs to reduce its bureaucratic tangles and improve on its efficiency to better serve businesses and citizens. The postal services need to diversify into a broad range of new service areas by embracing newer technological innovations.
The government, in the changed context of digital communications, must focus on innovations and efficient service delivery to stay competitive in the market that is swarming with private service delivery agents. The internet has come as a game changer and postal services around the world have tried to reap benefits of technology. The government must deploy such initiatives after surveying consumer behaviour as the Post Office needs to meet consumer demands and stay relevant in an age when technology rules.
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