December 21, 2015
Postal Banking: an idea whose time has come again
Last week representatives of several grass roots organizations and Washington DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton hand delivered more than 150,000 petition signatures supporting Postal Banking to the U.S. Postal service headquarters.
The signatures were gathered during the month of November by more than 20 organizations that support allowing the postal service to offer low-cost banking services. If implemented banking would be available at the 31,000 retail postal offices around the country.
As some Alliance members will recall for more than 6 decades the postal service was a place where people could open savings accounts, cash checks and do basic banking, at very low fees. This services were discontinued in the 1960s in the United States but continue at most postal services around the world.
Returning to postal banking would be good for both consumers who need an alternative to traditional banks and for the postal service itself. By expanding its offerings, the postal service would increase its revenue significantly, making it easier to keep local branches open and continue 6-day home delivery.
Post offices are a lifeline for older Americans who rely on home delivery for packages and, increasingly, prescription drug delivery. Rather than consolidating and privatizing this core service, postal banking would build on the strengths of the post office and improve its revenues.
Some of the other organizations supporting the Postal Banking campaign note the millions of dollars paid by people underserved by traditional banks to payday lenders and cash cashing services. Getting these services at lower cost from the postal service would help strengthen communities and curb predatory lenders.
Although Postmaster General Brennan does not need congressional approval to implement postal banking, Congresswoman Norton announced at the news conference that she will be pressing the Republican leadership in Congress to hold hearings on the issue in 2016.