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Would you bank at the post office?

By Allison Ross · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Posted: 1 pm ET

The U.S. Postal Service wants you to be able to cash your check or make money transfers the next time you stop by your local post office to mail a package.

In a white paper released in January, the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service floated the idea of post offices getting into the banking business.

The pitch: The post office could provide services such as prepaid cards, check cashing and small loans to the underbanked or unbanked population, which would help the struggling postal service shore up its own finances.

The idea has traction in some policy and legislative circles, particularly among Democrats. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came out in favor of the idea in an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post.

But unsurprisingly, many banks have been less enthusiastic about the idea. Camden Fine, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, wrote a blog post lambasting the idea as "half-baked and ill-considered," calling it attempted government intrusion into the financial services sector.

"The Postal Service is failing at doing the one thing it knows how to do -- delivering mail. What makes it think it could add financial services to its bag of tricks in the first place?" Fine wrote in the blog post.

Of course, this idea is not without precedent. The white paper points out that from 1911-1967, people were able to make savings deposits at post offices. It currently facilitates money transfers for customers. Meanwhile, a number of other countries already have more extensive postal banking than the U.S., including Japan and the United Kingdom.

The white paper notes that about 68 million Americans are "underserved" by banks. And criticism has been leveled at banks to do more for this population of unbanked and underbanked consumers.

What do you think of the idea of taking care of some of your financial needs at the same place you buy your stamps? Does this plan have merit?

Follow me on Twitter: @allisonsross.

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121 Comments
george
February 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

LOL
The worst bank in the history of banking is Bank of America.I would rather use the 7/11 as a bank than BOA.
If congress allowed the usps to just increase the postage rates they wouldn't be losing big dollars.Anything that congress touches either shuts down or declares chapter 11.
RE ELECT NO ONE in 2014 or 2016,shut them down before they shut us down.

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