AN POST is planning to increase the number of post offices offering Postbank services by around 25% in a move that will significantly expand its banking arm's presence in rural areas.

Although Postbank, a joint venture between An Post and French bank BNP Paribas, operates in almost 1,000 post offices, its services remain unavailable in many rural post offices which have yet to be computerised.

But the Sunday Tribune has learned that the state postal company now plans to computerise 250 small post offices so they can provide basic Postbank services such as savings.

The move will increase the competition facing the banks for deposits in rural areas and may also hit their direct debit volume as enhanced Billpay services will also be introduced as part of the upgrade.