Gillibrand Bill Pitches Banking At The Post Office

CNBC reports:

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is proposing legislation aimed at putting an end to current payday lending practices by giving some banking services a new home: the U.S. Post Office. The legislation, called the Postal Banking Act, would make retail banking services available at all U.S. Postal Service locations. That amounts to 30,000 post offices nationwide.

Services would include small-dollar loans for consumers that offer low fees and low interest rates. Those transactions would compete with payday loans, a short-term advance that typically comes due with your next paycheck.

In addition to small-dollar loans, Gillibrand’s postal bank legislation also includes other services including small dollar checking and savings accounts; transactional services including debit cards, cash machines, bill payments and online services; as well as domestic and international wire transfers.

Slate reports:

Postal banking is also already common in the rest of the world. Today, according to the United Nations’ Universal Postal Union, 183 national postal services offer at least one financial service and 87 of them provide checking or savings accounts, which today cover about 1 billion customers. Britain has postal banking. New Zealand has postal banking. Japan and China have postal banking.

New York Magazine reports:

The government could establish near-universal access to a postal banking option without facing any great administrative difficulties, policy-design challenges, or start-up costs: The Postal Service already has 30,000 locations spread across virtually every community in the U.S., and 59 percent of those offices happen to be in “banking deserts” (i.e., Zip Codes that have no more than one bank branch).

Most remarkably, this could all technically be achieved without Congress even lifting a finger. As a self-funded agency, the Postal Service has the authority to pursue revenue-raising schemes on its own volition. But Gillibrand wants Congress to force the Postal Service into the banking business — while easing that transition — by providing it with a mandate and seed money.