WASHINGTON (7/16/14)--Should the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer financial services to low-income communities? During today's Pew Charitable Trusts conference--"Financial Services and the Post Office"--Ryan Donovan, the Credit Union National Association's senior vice president for legislative affairs, will be on a panel that will explore the implications of such a proposal.
The idea of the USPS providing non-bank financial services came up in January as the subject of a white paper published by the Office of the Inspector General of the Postal Service. The paper claimed that "the Postal Service is well positioned to provide non-bank financial services to those whose needs are not being met by the traditional financial sector."
Donovan joins panelists Dong Hong, regulatory counsel for the Consumer Bankers Association; Adam Levitin, professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Consumer Advisory Board; and Jana Barresi, director of federal government relations for Wal-Mart.
CUNA expressed strong reservations about the proposal when it was unveiled in January. CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard said some credit unions would be happy to explore possible creative partnerships with USPS or anyone else who can help bring financial services to more people at less cost (
"To the extent that the goal here is more profit for USPS, there could be some problems," he said. "The field of financial services is already extremely crowded and competitive, and credit unions already provide a cooperative, not-for-profit alternative that benefits consumers, including many who would otherwise be unbanked. This is not an area in which there is a lot of low-hanging fruit that others have not picked."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Tom Davis, former congressman and past chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will speak during the conference, as well as David Williams, inspector general of the USPS, and Ruth Goldway, chair of the USPS Regulatory Commission.
In addition to the panel on providing financial services to the underserved, there will be panels on economics, operations and efficiency and a presentation of the findings from two Pew national surveys on consumer attitudes toward postal banking and the proximity of post offices to the underbanked.
The panel will be streamed live. Use the resource link below for the complete agenda for the conference.