Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) has introduced the Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions and Lending (POSTAL) Act, which would empower post offices to provide banking services.
Richmond and supporters argue that a postal banking system would benefit the many Americans who are forced to pay excessive interest rates for check cashing, loans, and other basic services because they lack access to mainstream banking. "According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the percentage of American households that are unbanked or underbanked increased from 25.8 percent in 2009 to 28.3 percent in 2011," said Richmond, who also noted that his plan could help the U.S. Postal Service shore up its own finances. "This legislation seeks to service the needs of citizens in underserved populations who have not been able to access the current system to improve their financial stability."
The proposal has already drawn a fair share of critics, however, ranging from the American Bankers Association to GOP legislators.