USPS IG Promotes Post Office Banking
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times today, United States Postal Service inspector general David C. Williams advanced the idea of offering banking services like checking accounts and consumer loans at US post offices. As he noted:
Drive through the dilapidated main strip in Terry, Miss., and it's easy to see that the town of 1,063 is a hardscrabble place. And last month, life there got harder when the last bank branch in town closed, leaving in the lurch residents who have long depended on it as a convenient place to manage their money.
The same thing is happening in countless other small towns and inner-city neighborhoods across the country, which have been left behind as banks adjust to new financial realities by shuttering branches by the thousands. The vast majority of the closures have hit poor areas, and residents are often left having to rely on other types of costly financial services.
Williams goes on to note that most of those small towns have a post office, which in times past was a place where elementary banking services were available:
This is not a radical idea. Many foreign post offices, including those in Britain, France, Brazil, New Zealand and Italy, offer financial services. In fact, globally, an average of 17.7% of postal revenue comes from financial services. In that sense, our Postal Service is the notable exception.
And it wasn't always that way. The Postal Service ran a successful, popular bank for more than 50 years that needed no bailout. The service was ended ultimately because of restrictions on the interest it could pay.
I don't know if anything good for ordinary Americans can come out of the current Congress, but at least the Obama Administration seems to be onboard with the idea.
(h/t David Dayen)