The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has launched a banking pilot program designed to offer financial services to customers in an effort to advance the service’s long-standing goal of postal banking. The pilot program marks the first time the USPS has offered banking services since 1967.
Through the program, individuals will be able to deposit payroll or business checks up to $500 onto a single-use debit card, which USPS refers to as “gift cards,” enabling users to withdraw cash from an ATM or make online and in-person purchases, USPS announced Monday.
The program will be tested at four locations in Washington, D.C.; Falls Church, Virginia; Baltimore; and the Bronx, New York. The sites and services are meant to be a “proof-of-concept” test, and USPS plans to expand the pilot’s services and locations in 2022.
Additionally, considered expansion services include a bill pay product with USPS branded reloadable cards and internal wire transfers between post offices. Long-term goals include USPS-owned ATMs, pending approval by additional statutory authorities.
USPS is in the solicitation process for proposals from the private sector for check verification services in an effort to enhance and expand pilot services.
The Postal Service is working with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) to implement the pilot program and train impacted employees of the test sites.
Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said offering these kinds of expanded services will ensure the stability of the USPS in the future. “New services will not just have the post office doing well by the people, but will bring in needed revenue,” Dimondstein told The Washington Post.
The banking pilot marks a new step in alignment with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan to improve USPS’ financial performance. Other key steps in DeJoy’s plan include slowed delivery times for 40 percent of First-Class mail and increased prices, both of which have been implemented recently.
The launch announcement is also the latest in USPS’ effort to modernize and enhance its systems and operations. Last month, the Postal Service tapped Lumen Technologies to help update and optimize USPS networks.