Will Post Office Offer Financial Products to Unbanked Customers?
Post offices may not just be a place to take your mail anymore. According to a report issued by the Office of Inspector General for USPS earlier this year, the post office may soon be offering payday loans, check cashing and digital currency exchanges, among other possibilities in 2014.
According to the report, 25% of U.S. households live at least partially outside the financial mainstream, without bank accounts or using costly services like payday lenders. The report explored how the U.S. Postal Service could offer a suite of non-bank financial services to help the financially underserved gain more financial stability.
The post office has been in financial turmoil for years, and the Office of Inspector General believes that offering other financial services may be able to revitalize the postal service.
“The Postal Service already provides non-bank financial services like money orders and international money transfers, and many American families could benefit if the Postal Service expanded its offerings,” the Office of the Inspector General said a statement.
The idea of offering digital currency conversions is perhaps the most radical of those presented because Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are still fairly new in this world. Some ideas the OIG bounced around included having a “post coin,” which would act similarly to Bitcoin.
No matter how far out these suggestions may be, they have some financial merit to them. The OIG said, “If just 10% of the money underserved Americans currently spend on alternative financial services were instead spent on more affordable products from the Postal Service, it could generate some $8.9 billion in new revenue.”
No changes have taken place as yet, but USPS certainly seems to be heading in a new direction. Don’t be surprised if you see a payday loan sign in your post office window at some point in the future.