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How banks impact your mailbox

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Friday, February 15, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

By now, you've probably had a chance to think about whether the cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service will impact you. This week, I started thinking about how the banking industry's continuing investment in online and mobile channels could potentially accelerate those cutbacks.

Banks have been pushing consumers toward online banking and online bill-pay for quite some time, which has had a severe trickle-down impact on the tradition of sending and receiving standard mail. As banks have been able to reduce the costs of dealing with loads of printing and postage, USPS carriers have had much lighter loads to deliver.

"The major reason for our first-class mail volume decline is 'electronic diversion,' including online bill payment," David Partenheimer, spokesman for the USPS, told me via email.

That diversion is getting bigger.

"We do believe that the trend of moving toward electronic forms of communication will continue, thus causing first-class mail volume to decline," Partenheimer added.

Banks are seeing their promotional efforts for the convenience of online banking pay off in a big way. Last year, a study from the American Bankers Association showed that older Americans -- a group that had been slow to embrace new technologies -- now prefer online money management more than any other channel. In fact, just 6 percent of Americans prefer to conduct their banking activities via mail.

Banks are giving account holders plenty of incentive to stop using old-school methods of sending and receiving information. At Wells Fargo, some checking account holders receive a $2 discount on monthly bank fees for signing up for online-only statements. At Citi, one of the potential ways to avoid monthly fees is by making a payment via online, mobile or telephone banking.

Has your bank enticed you to switch to paperless statements and online bill-pay? Would you ever consider moving back to the old system of stamps, envelopes and paper checks?

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1 Comment
Jackie Gavron
February 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Chase.com is down again. I keep getting a "Server is Busy" message. Customer service confirmed this and said it is due to new online banking features they're adding. Can't help but wonder if it's another hacking incident.