Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, February 03, 2014

Elizabeth Warren Taking the Lead on USPS Providing Affordable Banking Services for Underserved Communities

Coming to a Post Office Near You: Loans You Can Trust?:
According to a report put out this week by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service, about 68 million Americans -- more than a quarter of all households -- have no checking or savings account and are underserved by the banking system. Collectively, these households spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees for non-bank financial services like payday loans and check cashing... The poor pay more, and that's one of the reasons people get trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder. But it doesn't have to be this way. In the same remarkable report this week, the OIG explored the possibility of the USPS offering basic banking services -- bill paying, check cashing, small loans -- to its customers. With post offices and postal workers already on the ground, USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don't have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods... If the Postal Service offered basic banking services -- nothing fancy, just basic bill paying, check cashing and small dollar loans -- then it could provide affordable financial services for underserved families, and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing... The Postal Service is huge -- employing more than a half million people -- and its history is long and complicated. Any change will take time. But this is an issue I am going to spend a lot of time working on -- and I hope my colleagues join me. We need innovative ways to create pathways for struggling families to build economic security, and this is an idea that falls in that category.
I wrote about this a couple of days ago here, and still encourage those who have not yet done so to sign the White House Petition calling for immediately available executive actions on this issue (I am actually shocked how few people have signed this petition):

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