A new report from An Post's business development group has identified potential new business opportunities that could help ensure the viability of the post office network.

It suggests post offices could offer financial services, motor tax renewal and the collection of local authority payments.

The report also reveals that two-thirds of all post office transactions are carried out in under a third of the network's 1,100 branches.

The business development group was set up by Minister for Communications Alex White in January in a bid to identify new business opportunities for struggling post offices.

This is the first report from the group, which is led by entrepreneur Bobby Kerr.

In the last two decades, mail volume is down almost a third.

Today there are just over 1,100 post offices across the country but 48% of them account for only 12% of total business.

This report focuses on what the group says are four key areas of business potential.

These include financial services, and the development of e-payments accounts, similar to bank accounts, in an environment where some banks are closing branches in rural Ireland.

The idea of making small loans available is also being looked at.

Government services, such as the ability to renew motor tax and the collection of local authority payments in branch, have also been identified as areas of potential.