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Svensk Kassaservice 'should be closed'

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18:23 CET+01:00
Petrol Stations and supermarkets may take over from Posten if it decides not to continue its Svensk Kassaservice banking centres. In fact an investigation carried out by the National Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) suggests they might even make a better job of it.

Svensk Kassaservice came into being after the restructuring of Posten, the Swedish post office, at the beginning of the decade. It is a subsidiary of Posten whose function is to provide the general public with the possibility to pay bills and take out money anywhere in the country.

The company's transaction volume has gone down by 65 per cent since the beginning of the decade and is expected to continue falling at a rate of 15 per cent per year.

According to PTS only 1 to 2 per cent of the adult population now uses Svensk Kassaservice to pay bills or take out cash.

Svensk Kassaservice has 1,700 employees working in a total of 380 offices.

Every year the state pays Posten 400 million kronor to run Svensk Kassaservice. The business has long been a loss maker for the postal service. Despite the 400 million kronor subsidy Posten is only now managing to make the company break even.

In 2003 Posten asked the government to decide who was to be responsible for the payment system in the countryside. PTS has now concluded the subsequent investigation, which suggests that Posten is in effect free to wind down Svensk Kassaservice, even in the countryside.

The reason is that there are already a series of other actors, such as petrol stations, supermarkets and banks, willing to perform the same function as Svensk Kassaservice. Such a solution would also be likely to entail improved opening hours, lower prices for customers and lower costs for the state.

A parliamentary decision and an amendment to the current law are necessary for Posten to be freed of responsibility for Svensk Kassaservice.

"We now see alternatives that are better for all concerned. Above all they are cheaper. And these actors are ready to take over if a decision is taken," said Sten Selander, head of the postal department at PTS.

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