WASHINGTON (5/26/15)--The Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has issued a report examining the possibilities of the USPS offering affordable financial services products.
The report examines a number of approaches the USPS could take to enter into the financial services markets, including a number that involve credit unions.
CUNA believes that credit unions are currently in position to serve the underbanked, particularly with resources such as aSmarterChoice, shared branching and a wide-ranging surcharge-free ATM network.
The report includes partnerships with credit unions and banks as one approach to provide products such as reloadable prepaid cards and small loans.
“Establishing partnerships could help the Postal Service handle operational and regulatory complexities, bring important expertise, and possibly provide necessary capital,” the report reads, adding that credit unions’ current expertise with current regulatory operational challenges could prove beneficial.
A consortium of postal-affiliated credit unions is also mentioned as a potential partner with the USPS, should it look to offer more financial services products.
CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan participated in a Pew Charitable Trusts forum last year on the topic, and echoed CUNA’s position that credit unions are already well-positioned to meet the needs of the underbanked.
“We need to increase awareness among the unbanked that affordable financial services options are available and convenient through the credit union system," he said.
At the forum, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) indicated that partnerships with post offices and credit unions and community banks could provide a “pathway for millions of people” to get into the mainstream financial system.