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Posts Tagged ‘Postal Service’

Once again, Senator Elizabeth Warren is proving herself a proponent of innovative ideas around finance. Her latest call is based on a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and the idea is to include basic banking and bill payment into the U.S. Postal Service. I think this is a terrific plan.

Giving the unbanked an accessible, above-board, affordable way to cash checks, pay bills or take out small loans would provide significant savings to clients. According to the OIG’s report, more than a quarter of U.S. households are at least partially outside the traditional banking system. It would also provide the postal service with much-needed revenue, maintain local jobs, and keep the mail coming.

This isn’t as dramatic an idea as some might believe. The Postal Service already offers domestic and international money orders. Fifty years ago, customers could make deposits as well through the Postal Savings System. Other countries have taken this same step with great success, and financial services aren’t only for the unbanked. I was surprised to see people at Swiss post offices pay their utility bills or make a deposit, but I quickly realized it made a lot of sense.

I love the USPS (along with public libraries and the freeway system). Think of what it would cost you, dear reader, to personally move a piece of mail from, say, Florida to Ohio. Or Alaska. Or Hawai’i. (Yes, email is great but sometimes you have to send something physical. Like cookies.) And then think of what it costs thousands of people everyday to do something as simple as cash a check without access to a bank account.

Support both financial inclusion and an institution that predates the U.S., provides almost half a million jobs and helps tie the country together? Yes, please.

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