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A few days ago, a diary was posted explaining that the US Inspector General had recently endorsed the idea of the United States Post Office offering simple banking services in addition to its normal mail delivery service.
While this idea might seem foreign to many Americans, in the past the post office actually offered banking services for over 50 years. Per The New Republic, beginning in 1911:
“…the Postal Savings System allowed Americans to deposit cash with certain branch post offices, at 2 percent interest. By 1947, the system held deposits for over four million customers. Though dismantled in 1967 (after banks offered higher interest rates and eroded its market share), the post office continues to issue domestic and international money orders, including $22.4 billion worth in 2011, as well as prepaid debit cards through a deal with American Express.”
Putting aside the sad fact that banks once offered 2% interest rates (and you would now be lucky to get even half a percent), today banks could offer basic banking services such as check-cashing, saving accounts, and even small-dollar loans similar to payday lenders, yet at much lower interest rates which could potentially save low-income Americans thousands of dollars per household per year.