Postal Savings and the Provision of Financial Services: Policy Issues and Asian Experiences

The postal system is one of the institutions that can be used to mobilise and allocate financial resources. Postal financial services can include postal savings, postal remittances, postal checking and “giro” services. Such financial services can be made available through the broad network of postal facilities and may be provided as a public service, which includes the possibility of the post acting as an agent on behalf of another institution, or also when the postal system is privately owned.

This paper examines the policy and management issues confronting postal financial services along with reviews of the experiences of various countries (including 13 Asian countries).

The paper begins by introducing postal financial services and the factors that contribute to its success. It then seeks to address the impact of market liberalisation upon the changing economics of the posts. A review of both the current state of postal savings and the different types of governance regimes of the posts, in developed and developing countries, is also provided and followed by a review of changes in recent decades in policy approaches to postbanks and privatisation. The latter review considers in turn, the effect these changes have on the loss of postal financial services and the problem of financial exclusion.

The penultimate section reviews the experiences of a number of Asian countries with respect to management and organisational issues, including savings product development, investment policy on funds, building overseas remittances, and the introduction of appropriate financial technology. The paper then concludes by setting out policy proposals on postal financial services in developing countries, focusing on the delivery of services to underserved populations, strengthening savings mobilisation and overseas remittances, and the investment of funds for development.

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