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A New Bill Could Pave the Way for the Post Office to Join the Financial Services Industry

On July 23, 2014, Representative Cedric Richmond introduced the Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions, and Lending Act of 2014 (also referred to as the POSTAL Act of 2014). The bill proposes that the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) be allowed to provide some financial services, including small-dollar loans, checking accounts, and interest-bearing savings accounts.

The bill follows a white paper released by the inspector-general in January 2014. The inspector general suggested that the USPS could help serve those who are underserved—people who either do not have a checking or savings account, or those who do have an account but still use non-bank services such as payday lending. The white paper noted that 59% of post offices are in areas with one or no bank branches.

The white paper suggests that the USPS would not compete with banks, but would provide another alternative for individuals using non-bank services. The inspector-general’s report further suggested that the USPS could partner with banks in this new venture. As currently written, the bill provides the option for the USPS to offer checking and savings accounts “in partnership” with depository institutions and credit unions.  A copy of the bill is available here.