Mission Statement of the National Campaign
Nearly 28 percent of U.S. households (or 100 million people) do not have access to affordable financial services. For many, traditional banks are out of reach either geographically (bank deserts exist in both rural and urban areas), or due to high fees and other obstacles to opening, maintaining and accessing accounts. This lack of access drives millions (mainly the working poor) to rely on costly, predatory services such as check cashing and payday loans, trapping many in a cycle of debt.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in a unique position to provide basic, affordable, consumer-driven financial services via its existing infrastructure. The USPS is a trusted, accessible, and secure government agency (that receives no tax dollars for operating expenses) with the world’s largest retail network (31,000 branches serving every urban, suburban, and rural community in the country). Non-profit financial services provided by the USPS could help struggling families nationwide achieve financial stability – and strengthen the USPS mission to serve the public.
Postal systems around the world – including France, Italy, Japan, China, Brazil, India, and New Zealand – offer financial services and play important roles in advancing financial inclusion and literacy. And we have a tradition of postal banking in the United States as well. From 1911 to 1967, the U.S. Post Office offered savings deposit accounts, for example. The USPS continues to offer domestic and international money orders as well as international wire transfers.
Campaign for Postal Banking is a coalition of consumer, worker, financial reform, economic justice, community, civic, and faith-based organizations building a campaign-based movement to inform and mobilize the public to call on the United States Postal Service to take the necessary steps to restore and expand postal banking at its branches across the country.
Services could include:
International Money Transfers
In 2012, more than $123 billion in remittances were sent from the United States to more than 140 countries.[i] The USPS processed a small percentage of those transactions via paper and electronic international money orders. Currently, USPS paper money orders are accepted in 28 countries.[ii] The electronic service, Dinero Seguro/Sure Money, has nine participating countries and is available at 2,800 post office locations.[iii]
Of the ten countries receiving the most remittances from the United States (Mexico, China, and India are the top three), the USPS paper money order serves only two (El Salvador and Dominican Republic). The electronic service serves an additional two (Mexico and Guatemala) for a total of four of those 10 countries. The USPS does not offer services to China, India, Philippines, or South Korea, for example.
The USPS can expand and enhance its international money transfers:
Replace Dinero Seguro, the current electronic international money transfer system, with the Universal Postal Union (UPU)’s International Financial System (IFS) which operates in 70 countries.[iv] The software and infrastructure already exists.
Work with the Postal Service’s current remittance provider to expand the Dinero Seguro offering to additional countries; or
Implement a combination of the UPU system and expansion of Dinero Seguro.
Expand availability of Dinero Seguro to additional post offices – the infrastructure already exists.
Establish customer accounts for IMTs similar to the Sure Money “frequent customer” card which:
Streamline customer identification/use (reduce filling out forms).
Facilitate storage of remittance amounts so a larger amount can be sent at a lower fee (rather than multiple small transactions).
Money Transfer and Bill Pay
The USPS currently has 70 percent of the paper money order market. This service can be enhanced and modernized by adding an electronic Money Order service, including:
Post to Post electronic domestic money order (one possibility is the UPU domestic service).
Bill payment via electronic money order.
Add money transfer for Mobile devices, also available through the UPU.
General Purpose Reloadable Cards
Offer USPS-branded Postal Cards at all Post Offices across the country.
Include features that provide no-fee upload of tax refunds, payroll, and government benefit payments.
Allow customers to log into their online Postal Service prepaid card account to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and so on. A smartphone app could allow customers to load paper checks onto their card by taking a picture of the checks with their phone.
Expand check cashing capability beyond U.S. Treasury checks.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
Install low-fee ATMs in Post Office lobbies and offer no-fee transactions to Postal Card customers.
Access to cash would further facilitate the purchase of postal products and services.
Partnerships to Provide Services to Executive Agencies
Explore with government agencies the provision of benefits and payments such as Social Security benefits or IRS refunds via a General Purpose Reloadable Card – Postal Card.
Explore with government agencies providing a service to “cash” Electronic Benefit Transfers for recipients of government benefits.
Work with government agencies including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (for example, their Money Smart Program[v]) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumer education regarding financial services available at post office locations.
Explore the UPU’s system for transfer of U.S. government pension benefits both internationally and domestically.
Explore adding a component to the Postal Card to offer an interest-bearing savings feature.
Explore adding a component to the Postal Card to offer small-dollar loans to customers who participate in automatic deposit of paychecks or government payments.
[i] Remittance Flows Worldwide in 2012. Pew Research Center. February 20, 2014.
[ii] United States Postal Service, International Mail Manual, 370: International Money Transfer Services.
[iii] United States Postal Service, International Mail Manual, 372: Sure Money.
[iv] Universal Postal Union, About Financial Services.
[v] Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Money Smart – A Financial Education Program.
For more information go to the National Campaign for Postal Banking Website.
Petition for Postal Banking
We, the undersigned people of Cuyahoga County, Ohio (workers, residents, and business owners) call on the USPS District Manager and the USPS Postmaster General to bring postal banking to Cuyahoga County now! Nearly 20% of Cleveland-area households are under-served by traditional banks. We need affordable, non-profit, consumer-driven financial services.
We call on the Postal Service to take immediate action to provide affordable financial services including ATM's, paycheck cashing, bill payment, and electronic money transfers.