Monday, February 23, 2009

India Post to enter gold retail trade

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala circle of India Post is preparing to enter the gold retail trade as part of a business diversification initiative of the Department of Posts. Customers can now walk into a post office and buy pure 24 carat gold coins certified by the Swiss precious metal company Valcambi.

The scheme will be launched in selected post offices in the State by the end of the month. The initiative, being launched in association with Reliance Money Ltd (RML) and World Gold Council, will enable customers to buy gold coins of various denominations from post offices. Initially, the department plans to sell 0.5 gm, 1 gm, 5 gm and 8 gm gold coins packed in tamper-proof sealed covers.

“India Post has already launched this scheme in a few other circles, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, where it has been received well. We are planning to launch the scheme in Kerala circle before the end of February,” said Southern Region Headquarters director Govinda Rajan.

Mr. Rajan said in the first phase, gold coins would be sold through 18 post offices in the Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode regions and selected post offices in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

Senior officials of the Department of Posts had already been given training in handling the RML software for transactions. Every customer will be given an invoice or bill detailing the transaction. While the department will be earning an amount as commission, RML will also bear the service tax on the commission paid to India Post.

The stocking and sale of gold coins in the post offices will be under the direct supervision of the respective postmasters. The postmaster will be required to check the RML web site on a regular basis for the latest updates of gold rates and discounts. “We already have ample security features in our post offices for stocking valuables. However, under this scheme we will not be maintaining a huge stock of gold coins. The supply of gold coins in the various post offices will be replenished by RML according to the movement of the coins,” Mr. Rajan said.

The sale of gold coins through post offices is a continuation of India Post’s attempts to capitalise on its vast network for diverse business initiatives. The Kerala circle is already offering various Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) applications and Sabarimala temple prasadam as retail products to its customers. Apart from the reach of its network and the credibility of the department, customers buying gold coins from post offices can also bank on the special discounts offered during festival seasons.

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