Slovakia’s national post office company, Slovenská Pošta, will soon introduce the possibility of making payments with bank cards at its post offices. So far, clients have needed cash to pay in their cheques or collect goods they buy online via a cash-on-delivery model. The biggest offices will adopt this scheme by the end of 2018, the Sme daily reported.
“Our aim is to test this in as many post offices as possible, ideally in every Slovenská Pošta branch and for every type of service,” said Peter Helexa, managing director of Slovenská Pošta, as quoted by Sme.
The pilot scheme will be in operation until the end of this year. During this period, the use of the payment cards should be enabled at the biggest post offices. Subsequently, the system is expected to be installed in all other post offices.
It is not currently clear how much the new system will cost.
“Since we are currently focusing on intense negotiation over conditions with the companies issuing payment cards, it would be premature to comment on the costs,” the company’s spokesperson, Martina Macková told Sme.
Although it is already possible to pay with bank cards at the post office, the service is very limited. Since the autumn of 2016, there have only been two services for which clients can pay with cards: the postal payment on account and the postal economic payment, the latter used by companies.
Moreover, while it is possible to use a bank card to pay for school lunches, people cannot settle their invoices within SIPO (Joint Collection of Utility Payments - a service for making household payments for water, gas, electricity, rent, cable TV or even for loan repayments only by means of one document) by a bank card.
In addition, the services are limited to Poštová Banka card holders and their use incurs an extra fee for transactions. Not even the so-called postal cash dispensers, i.e. the payment terminals of Poštová Banka, have satisfied clients as they too incur charges, Sme wrote.
It is also possible to use the so-called postal card, but one needs to top it up with money.
Mobile app will also be introduced
Slovenská Pošta also plans to introduce cashless payments for courier services. Moreover, a mobile app enabling communication between the post office and its clients should be introduced in the second quarter of 2019.
“The app should enable our customers to find out when their parcel will be delivered, to monitor its status and, for example, communicate with the courier,” Macková told Sme.
Customers will also be able to choose whether they want to pick up the parcel over the counter at the post office, at a specific address or from a post office box.
The end of yellow tickets?
Slovenská Pošta already introduced a significant change in its operation when it introduced electronic notification for receiving a letter or a parcel in February 2016. Instead of leaving yellow tickets, the post office notifies customers about a consignment via email or a text message.
However, this service is not universally available either. People need to have a yellow postal card and fill in a request. Currently, almost 60,000 customers use the service, according to Macková.
While it is not possible to activate the service online, Macková explained, they are currently analysing its use and the possibilities for improving and extending the service, Sme reported.