The move is part of a continuing commitment to move to cashless systems and will fund inmates to buy toiletries, cigarettes, newspapers, confectionery and magazines from the prison tuck shop.
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said the new service will bring real and practical benefits for prisoners and their families, particularly since prison visits have been restricted as a result of COVID-19.
The new service is also part of a wider drive within the Irish Prison Service to modernise and move to electronic systems, in line with the Government’s ‘eAgenda’.
“The introduction of video visits, electronic money transfers, and now this new An Post BillPay card service, have all allowed families to support prisoners by keeping in contact and by providing funds for use in prison tuck shops, without having to travel long distances to prisons,” the minister said.
He praised the swift action and speed of co-operation between An Post and the IPS, and said it was an example of what could be achieved right across the public service.
'Being human about money'
Debbie Byrne, MD of An Post Retail, said the move is a great example of An Post’s approach to “being human about money”.
“We have been able to match An Post’s unparalleled reach in every community, with our strong technology and counter systems, in an agile fashion to meet the changing needs of citizens and government.
Any prisoner who wishes to participate can nominate one family member who will receive a BIllPay card in the post.
The nominated person can then bring the BillPay card to their local post office and make a payment by cash or debit card.
The service is private and confidential, as the nature and destination of the transaction is masked, protecting both the payee and the recipient.
The national post-office network currently handles close to 1.4 million customer visits each week, and 120 million electronic transactions each month.
The new payment option was introduced in post offices last week, and is currently being rolled out throughout the prison system.
Prisoners currently receive a daily gratuity payment, dependent on their prison regime. The payments are €0.95c on basic, €1.70c on standard, and €2.20c on enhanced.
Prisoners do not have access to social welfare while in custody.