By David Dayen, The American Prospect

[The phrase ‘postal banking’ might not get your pulse racing, but it matters more than you might think. We’ve gone through decades of privatization and dismantling of government services. Governments at every level have often chosen to restrict public services (such as the Post Office) to foster corporate solutions that might be worse, cost more, or not be available to some people. The reintroduction of postal banking is a visible sign that we might be turning a corner. This would be good for the unionized employees of USPS, good for consumers who wish our mail system would be as good as it once was, and good for defenders of the commons as a better alternative to corporate owned and run services. — Progressive Hub]

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken the most dramatic step in a half-century to re-establish a postal banking system in America. In four pilot cities, customers can now cash payroll or business checks of up to $500 at post office locations, and have the money put onto a single-use gift card. It’s the most far-reaching executive action that the Biden administration has taken since Inauguration Day.

The move puts the USPS in direct competition with the multibillion-dollar check-cashing industry, which operates storefronts to allow unbanked or underbanked residents to cash their paychecks.

According to USPS spokesperson Tatiana Roy, the pilot launched on September 13 in four locations: Washington, D.C.; Falls Church, Virginia; Baltimore; and the Bronx, New York. To test the system, Prospect art director Jandos Rothstein visited a post office in Falls Church on Saturday and successfully cashed a business check onto a Visa gift card.

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