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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
Spike
February 15, 2014 at 5:50 am

Heeeeellll naw... Those idiots can't manage to put a letter in the right mailbox, you want me to trust them with my money? I might as well leave my cash in a box on the front porch. Those morons already stole at least one package from me that I know of. And how many stories do we hear about the carrier who didn't feel like working that day and put all the mail he had into a dumpster? Or did the world a "favor" and threw out everything he considered junk mail so we didn't have to? Handle my money? No thanks.

Mel
February 15, 2014 at 5:11 am

I have no desire whatsoever to stand in long lines at any post office. Service is ALWAYS so slow at all of them that I absolutely dread going there for any reason.

Mike Downey
February 15, 2014 at 4:02 am

We wouldn't bank at a USPS office ONLY, ONLY, ONLY
because our nearest bank is two minutes from us and
there are at least three more banks only three or
four minutes from us. Our nearest USPS office is
twenty minutes away (in perfect traffic conditions.)

We love the USPS and want to do everything we can do to
prevent it from being eliminated. But offering banking
services is definitely not the answer for us...but
hopefully it will be for enough other people.

For now, we will continue to mail as much as we can via the USPS. All of the many new services they provide (package pick up, etc.) is wonderful. They should continue to take advantage of their years of service/experience and their myriad delivery network for delivering letters and packages, in order to compete with others, especially all that is offered electronically (internet).

Joe
February 15, 2014 at 3:16 am

It is a worldwide practice to allow cashing transactions at the post office. We would be in step with the all the rest of the countries that offer the counter service of check cashing and other money transactions. (reduced fees!)

Bill
February 15, 2014 at 1:02 am

Bank at the Post Office? Ha Ha Ha! That's a big joke. They already are ripping us off!

Lorna D. Rudnikas
February 15, 2014 at 12:51 am

Sorry, I think our U.S. Postal Service has enough on their plate and certainly stretching their responsibilities into the field of banking is a bit of stretch big time!!!

Bruce Owens
February 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm

They have a hard time delivering packages without breaking the contents. Then act like the only Post office in the town. Well I'm using UPS and FED EX every chance I get. Would I trust them with my money. You have to be kidding, its a joke. They cant even jack their prices up to make money delivering the mail. I wouldn't put my money on them to run a bank.

cheryl
February 14, 2014 at 10:40 pm

ARE YOU SERIOUS? THE POST OFFICE CAN'T SEEM TO RUN PROPERLY WITH A MANAGER OVERLOOKING ANOTHER MANAGER OVERLOOKING A POSTMASTER OVERLOOKING A SUPERVISOR... IF THEY STOPPED REDUCING THE CARRIERS,OFFICE CLERKS AND MAIL HANDLERS THAT MAKE THE POSTAL SERVICE ACTUALLY "DELIVER THE MAIL" AS THEY CLAIM IN THEIR SLOGAN.."WE DELIVER" THEY ACTUALLY MIGHT BE ABLE TO DELIVER!! BANKING AT THE POST OFFICE WOULD BE AS DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN... THEY WOULD HAVE TO HIRE ANOTHER "BANKING MANAGER" WHICH IS NOT... I REPEAT "IS NOT" WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT DELIVERING THE MAIL OR ATTEMPTING BANKING SERVICES... THEY NEED TO REDUCE THE MANAGEMENT AND FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE FIRST!!

Martin
February 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Certainly! Go to the UK and check out their POs. They are like little banks/shops. You can get money orders, certified checks, prepaid cards, transfer money,have items wrapped, etc. In fact outside of clothing or food you can get most anything there.

j black
February 14, 2014 at 9:04 pm

No way. I live in 48174 and the P/O branch that delivers is in 48180 even thought the USPS has a branch in 48174 (they don't deliver to their own zip.) The 48180 for several years frequently has a sub deliver vs.our regular carrier(she)whose excellent while the sub(he)never reads names or addresses & continues to dump mail in any Apt.Bldg.he decides to leave it at. In order to complain, I can't call to speak w/a Mgr.or Supervisor because they daily block all incoming calls & even the inspector from downtown Detroit has to get in his car & drive 1/2 hour to their office to address issues. The Manager/Supervisor continues to block all incoming phone calls which requires anyone w/a complain to do the same, hop in car & drive miles to her location to complain to Supervisor re:non-delivered, lost mail. She promises to take care of complaint, (never does) & call you back & never does. The sad thing is she gets a healthy pay & retirement plan when she should be fired for not doing her job. Any other business wouldn't tolerate this for 1 day let alone several years. I certainly wouldn't want the P/O in the banking business when they can't even take care of their own. And with recent increases over the years, the service just gets worse and worse. As a result of -0-zero minus service,its forced me to subscribe to a pob in another city which causes me to go there a few days a week to pickup my very sensitive mail that I'd have a problem receiving from the sub postal when my regular gal is off.

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