The software package was chosen for its compatibility with the Post Office's £500m Horizon banking system, which is based on the Escher Group's pre-Web age Riposte systems.
Visitors to the Post Office will be able to withdraw cash, make deposits and check their account balances. In future, the Post Office hopes to offer more sophisticated banking services, including credit card transactions.
The rollout of the Web-enabled software is pencilled-in for mid-2002 but IT managers are optimistic that it can be launched by the end of the year. ICL/Pathway has been commissioned to install the messaging system, which will interface with the Post Office's IBM banking engine via XML streams.
According to John Meagher, vice-president of strategic accounts for the Escher group, WebRiposte will allow the Post Office to connect approximately 20,000 workstations across a variety of different connection media such as ISDN, ASDL or satellite links.
The Post Office and the major banks are under strong political pressure to co-operate on providing basic banking services to disadvantaged groups as bank branches close in thinly populated rural areas. Already, HSBC, Lloyds/TSB, Barclays and NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland have signed up to take part in the initiative.
IT director for network banking at the Post Office, Basil Shall, commented: "Customers will be able to treat the Post Office as if it were their own bank. And if you don't pay for something in your own bank, you won't pay for it in the Post Office."