February 14, 2014

USPS 'open' to idea of banking services

Feb. 18, 2014 - A U.S. Postal Service spokesperson was quoted in American Banker last week saying the agency was "open to any innovative ideas" with regard to the suggestion from the agency's Office of Inspector General that it should offer customers some financial services.

Carrie Hunt, NAFCU's senior vice president of government affairs and general counsel, said consumers are best served by institutions that can offer a full range of financial services and establish relationships with them, as credit unions do.

USPS spokesperson Toni DeLancey, the Banker reported, said the idea to offer banking services "took us by surprise" but later "spread like wildfire." The paper noted that the USPS may not be able to offer "non-postal services" under a 2006 law, but some lawmakers would like to change that.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and others embraced a suggestion that the USPS could offer limited financial services to underbanked persons as a way to generate more income.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee this month approved a postal service reform bill after adding a section that could accommodate language for new services being offered in the future. The bill, S. 1486, doesn't specify that financial services could be in the mix. Instead, it says any such products should use the USPS's existing processing and distribution network, be in the public interest, answer a likely public demand and not create unfair competition with the private sector.

NAFCU has concerns that this language could be used or amended to open the door to banking services by the post office and is staying vigilant on this issue on the Hill.