Program long opposed by credit union advocacy groups has gained little traction.
It’s safe to say that the United States Postal Service (USPS)’s banking pilot has not been a hit. The USPS reported Tuesday that between January 1 and March 30, just one person used the service.
That single purchase of a $500 gift card, made at a post office in Bronx, N.Y., generated $5.95 in revenue for the Postal Service, according to a report the USPS filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Overall, since its launch on September 1, 2021, only seven customers have used the pilot program, which has generated a total of $41.65 in revenue.
Despite this lack of customers, the USPS said it has not yet determined the future of the program.
What Exactly Is the Postal Banking Program?
Without much publicity, the USPS began the pilot program in September. It allows customers to use a business or payroll check to purchase a gift card; the maximum amount permitted is $500. No cash is disbursed. In addition to the Bronx, the pilot program is operating in post offices in the Washington, DC; Falls Church, VA; and Baltimore, MD areas.
It has proved controversial from the start. Congressional Republicans have argued the USPS does not have the authority to conduct banking services. The regulatory commission has indicated the Postal Service was required to seek its approval before starting the program, but has taken no action on the matter.
Conversely, democrats on Capitol Hill have said the program should be expanded and that the $5.95 fee charged is excessive.
The Credit Union Stance on Postal Banking
Financial services trade groups, including those representing credit unions, have criticized postal banking proposals for many years.
Specifically, B. Dan Berger, president/CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, recently reiterated this position, claiming the “program stretches the bounds of the Postal Service’s statutory authority and allows the underfunded and understaffed USPS to unfairly compete with credit unions who are already meeting the needs of low- to moderate-income individuals.”