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Would you bank at the post office?

By Allison Ross ·
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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bob komar
February 14, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I agree with dennis..I also work for the po 30 years, in order for us to go into banking you would have to get rid of 90% of postmasters and mgrs.. they can't run what we do now with great efficiency!

Kimi Yang
February 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm

This is a very good idea for USPS!!
In Taiwan's Postal office they do the banking service for a long time, and right now this is their major profit!!

February 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I wonder if the USPS can really handle this responsibility in our city. They have a very small, understaffed office, no place for their trucks to park, an inadequate amount of mail boxes, and a questionable financial base to launch this type of undertaking. They have been struggling for years to make ends meet financially. They currently take up parking spaces at the library, businesses, and in front of homes. This alone blocks others from using these facilities, and/or visiting neighbors/friends, and the parking for customers at the post office itself only allows for 4 customers at a time. I'm sure offices in other areas may be more adequate, but others like ours is in a location that is unsuitable and inconvenient for 95% of the people who live here.

steven bennett
February 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I would not have a problem with banking with the usps. I have dealt with them for a long time and feel they could step up to the task

R W Wakefield
February 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I think it's a great proposal and idea. The USPS is capable of taking on this role and if it helps them to become profitable, I'm all for it.

I primarily use the USPS for all my shipping needs and they do a great job in that capacity. I don't see how they can fail by adding more services to their capabilities.

I hope this gets approved and they profit in it the same way banks profit from money transfer. It will help them become viable and profitable as they have been in the past.

I also think that anything Government run is destined for failure. I hope this is not one of those case study's.

Dennis Liesz
February 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

I work for the USPS, and I think this is crazy, upper management is corrupt and they have a hard enough time getting things from point A to B. I can't wait for my retirement to get away from the BS and politics. WHAT A JOKE !!!!!

Marie Reid
February 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Yes, I think it will be a good things if the post offices got into banking. It would be a lot easier for senior citizes to mail and bank in one stop. This is an excellent idea.

February 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Are you kidding I work for the USPS. The management is the most corrupt people I have ever met. They bring in friends and neighbors without any experience and make them high paid managers. They are raping the USPS.

Ronald S. Hofler
February 14, 2014 at 6:17 pm

As a retired postal employee of 25 years, and a consumer who uses banks quite a bit, I think it is an EXCELLENT idea... As far as government getting involved in our banking, we are not run by the government, but by the US POSTAL SERVICE - people need to get over the big brother idea, it's a good, viable,additional service the post office could handle, and quite well I think. GO FOR IT US POSTAL SERVICE, and keep Saturday delivery alive and well, especially if they are gong to offer banking services.... They already have the buildings, the parking, the financial basis to handle bank transactions, ABSOLUTELY, YES, GREAT IDEA.

Deborah Daniels
February 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Having the ability for customers to do banking at the post office is a very good idea. I already buy money orders from them. It would help the post office stay afloat. Don't be surprised if the banks don't want it. The banks are greedy and don't want competition.