Legislation has again been introduced to bring the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) into the retail-finance arena by authorizing it to provide an array of services characterized in this bill (S. 2755) as “basic.” Advocates believe that USPS financial activities would reduce reliance on predatory payday lenders and provide low-cost deposit products to safeguard the funds of vulnerable households. As drafted, the legislation would further these goals, but also allow USPS to offer these and other retail-finance services to a broad customer base despite some limits in the bill intended to focus its operations on un-and under-banked households. The legislation authorizes partnerships with banks and credit unions for lending products, but does not appear to do so for all of the others it authorizes for the USPS. Financial products could provide USPS with needed revenue, but pose significant risks which the legislation does not generally address beyond the need for regulations issued by the USPS in consultation with financial regulatory agencies.
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