Can the post office be a bank?


Guests: Lisa Servon and Sheldon Garon

If you are poor in America, chances are greater that you don’t have a bank account and instead rely on expensive cash-checking stores and high-interest pay-day loans for financial transactions. In fact, roughly 8 percent of U.S. households are “unbanked” and according to the a new report by the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service, “interest and fees for alternative services costs them on average an extra $2,412 each year.” That’s why the Post Office has floated the idea of adding basic bill-paying, check cashing and small loans to the menu of services it provides. Could the plan work? Would it help poor people and save the cash-strapped Postal Service at the same time? In this hour of Radio Times, we’ll talk about it with New School professor LISA SERVON who has written extensively about the financial lives of low-income families and Princeton professor SHELDON GARON who has studied postal banking in the U.S. and overseas.

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