on Apr 5th, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 42 comments
 
According to a New York Times article, nearly 10 percent of Americans do not have bank accounts. These and other underbanked people may be taken advantage of by lenders, check cashing facilities, and pawnbrokers through excessive interest rates and fees. Fortunately, in this country, there are many options for consumers to choose, including prepaid debit cards. What if the Postal Service explored partnering with prepaid debit card providers to sell prepaid debit cards at post offices, just as they are now sold at other retail outlets? While the Postal Service explored similar products in the past, the current economic climate calls for a reexamination of the product. The Postal Service’s current experience conducting financial transactions in the form of money orders and Dinero Seguro would aid in the introduction of prepaid debit card services. Offering the cards could create a new revenue stream for the Postal Service and earn interest on the cards’ float, the money residing in cardholder accounts. That money may be invested prior to its use by account holders. The Postal Service might also benefit from increased sales of other products due to an increase in store traffic. The Postal Service has two core market advantages that would aid it in successfully offering prepaid debit cards. First, with the second-largest retail network in the country, the Postal Service could sell prepaid debit cards in areas with limited private sector retailers. Second, customers may be more likely to come to a Post Office to purchase prepaid debit card transactions because of their trust in the Postal Service brand. Legal and regulatory constraints, however, currently prohibit the Postal Service from offering prepaid debit cards. Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the Postal Service cannot offer new nonpostal products. Private sector interests may also work to prevent the Postal Service from competing against them by offering this product. Finally consider that given the robust variety of financial institutions already in this country, the Postal Service should evaluate whether offering prepaid banking card services would provide valuable options to customers while making a profit for itself. What do you think? Why did you answer yes or no to the poll question? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

42 Comments

I don't think the Postal Service should waste its limited energy on such endeavors. This specific initiative lacks the scale to justify the attention/effort. Importantly, it is not consistent with the Postal Service's core competencies and/or allowed mandate. it behooves the postal Service to fiocus its energy on other initiatives that have scale and are more consistent with its mandate.

What's the big differance in a prepaid debit card and offering money orders? IT's a great idea and would probibly sell like hot cakes, I have bank accounts and I would love one as a backup, in case I lost my regular card, perfect as a gift, excellent for travel

With one clerk at the window and a line out the door, I don't know if the Postal Service should introduce one more product to sell at the window that has nothing to do with its "core competencies and/or allowed manadate"(as the humble overserver brilliantly pointed out).

At this point in the game, the Postal Service should explore any new revenue stream that is identified. First class mail is declining and who knows when business mail will recover, and even if it does, it may not recover to its previous levels. To exclude any new thoughts on what the Postal Service can do next is a disservice to the 600,000 postal service employees and 240 million customers they serve.

Funny thing you ask about pre-paid debit cards:

Currently the Department of Posts, India, is inviting proposals from eligible firms for a Pre-Paid Card Project. Here a link to their RFP (Request for Proposal) document:

http://www.indiapost.gov.in/pdf/RFP_Pre-Paid_Card_Project.pdf

Regards
http://postalsanity.com

Great idea. let's do it.

Sure why not, it replaces a cash and guarantees
delivery with a litany of legal terms and conditions.

Not sure if the aka "Visa", aka "BofA", aka "MC", (Eagle) brand shown in the picture has the same link to the Federal Reserve though? It seems logical.

Actually, folks who use other than cash in their
current postal transactions probably don't know, or
simply are not aware, of the contractual terms their credit card companies provide them with on current postal transactions?

I've always been impressed with the implications associated with the act of simply affixing a stamp to a letter. We have an ex-state representative in my district who found this out.
Now that legal responsibility has been extended to the
card holder's terms and conditions acceptance there of.

I am currently looking for a good prepaid debit card and there are a lot of them out there. thanks for the information, I think the postal service would be an ok idea, it might help boost up there revenue.

good idea.

better idea, lower managers pay and cut managers in half. when you now have a ratio of one eas person/manager to each craft worker you will NEVER have any money!

Good Idea

The Treasury's plan to switch millions of people who receive Social Security and other federal benefits from paper checks to electronic payments should have the Postal Service handle this activity for people without bank accounts.

As you know, this is going to further reduce mail volume, but working with the Treasury, it could help bring more customers to the post office and increase walk-in revenue??

Shut it down and allow private competition.

Do like other forms of Local State & Federal Governments. Sub-contract it out to a qualified bonded Courier Services(UPS/FedEx, etc.). Just like the turnpike toll-plaza system in Florida is no longer DOT, it's a private firm. Federal Buildings & County buildings use private security firms like Wackenhut & the list goes on. They pay one fee per contract & keeps people working & saves them money.

Cut out Saturday mail delivery ... Who really needs mail on Saturday... It will save billions and you will not get many people who object...
Also you could cut out several post offices... In Verona Beach for one,, their is a post office only 2000 feet away in the town of Sylvan Beach... zip code 13162.... How stupid it that... they could have one and save millions alone... thank you..

Cut out Saturday mail. Eliminate most junk mail.
A2.

Stop paying your employees so much! If it comes to cutting cost this could bring it down, if they don't like it bring in people who will work for less. I know a lot of people who need jobs. As for taking away saturday delivery, that would be horrible I think it's great to have delivery on saturday especially when you really need a package that can't be there on friday.

have the people that sort it deliver the mail also, they seem to have too much time on there hands anyway.

Close it on Monday instead of Saturday.Saturday is the only day working class customers paying cash can go.Or open from 12-7.

Back again,

Sell lottery tickets online

YES STOP HIRING PEOPLE THAT CAN NOT DRIVE, JUST LIKE THE ONE THAT PULLED OUT IN FRONT OF MY DAUGHTER AND GRANDCHILDREN AND ENDANGERED THEIR LIVES. THEY ALSO REFUSE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBLITY FOR IT.WE HAVE TO HAVE INSURNCE BY LAW AND YOU DON'T!!!!!!!!

The postal service is losinng billions because it is not effiecnt,pays employees to much-employees are to lazy because hey are overpaid and protected by regulations that the public does not have!When a for profit service is ran in this manner it will never be profitable.

1. Cut Wages at the top 75%, down to 50% at the bottom
... That should save a few billion
2. No Pensions ...Again a few billion saved
3. Problem Solved.

Only half of my town has delivered mail the other half has to go to post office daily. One side of the street gets delived mail, the other doesn't.
Imagine the savings if EVERYONE had to pick up? Not just the unfortunate few.
How about charging the same postage rate to everyone? Can you imagine if every piece of junk mail came with a stamp affixed? How much revenue that would bring in? No more bulk rate for junk mail!BILLIONS

The USPS should advertise the use of mail versus using the internet; focusing and providing statistical information on the incident rate of mail fraud and/or identify theft via the Postal Service or the Internet. The desire to use the internet in lieu of a 44 cent stamp to pay bills, has resulted in more personal and monetary loss than the cost of years worth of stamps. I personally use the mailing system and to-date have not had a single incident of identity theft. However, I have family and friends that cannot make this claim. In case some would 'pay' the security agencies that promise protection via the internet, compare the cost of the proposed security versus what you actually spent on postage. This should be the intent of the USPS advertisement.

HIGHER UP NEED A FREEZE ON THEY PAY RAISE AND BONUS THEY GET WHEN THEY MAKE WORKER PAY GO DOWN. HOW MANY SUPERVISOR A OFFICE NEED. WE USE HAVE 3 NOW WE HAVE 5 SUPERVISOR BUT A SMALL FORCE IN OFFICE. BUT WORKER ARE DOWNSIDE AND PAID LESSER EACH YEAR. SATURDAY WE WANT TO KEEP. THE BOSS WANT NO SATURDAY SO THEY CAN HAVE A RAISE AND BONUS. WE LOSE MORE PAID THAT MOST WORKER NOW HAVE GET A OTHER JOB. THAT COULD BE EMPLOY A OTHER PERSON OUT OF WORK. CHANGE THE HIGHER UP IN POSTAL SERVICE. THAT WHAT NEED TO BE DONE.

1. cutting saturday delivery (but absolutely NOT cutting saturday mail movement) would be fine-except in circumstances (like fed-ex or UPS) where customers would want to pay a premium for something that they must have on saturday. Most of the time there is nothing that really can't wait till monday.
2. You absolutely MUST make more postal services and products available to the public in more non-post office places. You must also streamline the choices you have to mail letters and packages- there are too many choices and can be too confusing and this leads to way to long lines at the post office.
3. You need to be like GM - the post office will always be needed. Letters and official business from government agencies will always have to be delivered - even twenty years from now there will be that faction of the population who will not join the digital lifestyle or can't, for whatever reason. Just take a look at check cashing places offering money orders - how ancient, yet they are all proliferating in this modern digital world. so maybe a downsize, like GM is definately in the picture.
4. you need to stop making promises like overnight mail that can't be delivered overnight or priority mail that takes just as long to get to a destination as 1st class mail. Again - too many choices and a feeling of getting "ripped off" by the postal service.
5. Also the postal service is the postal service and most people understand this. Given that fact, is it really neccessary to advertise on TV???

I rember when the mailman delivered mail twice a day to our home.
And only delivered 1 st class mail ie important letters and bills not junk.

Sell all the houses you bought for you Excitives. You aint Bankers.

Stop taking mail door to door have and mail box'es in common area. Put the boxes on each block. This will save time and money. Less time walking from each house now the Mail Man will drive to each location place the mail for that area or block then drive on.

1. Eliminating Saturday delivery - no problem.
2. Introducing more products for revenue - no problem.
3. The genesis of the postal system are the carriers and the distribution centers period, and NOT management. You should eliminate 90% of middle and upper management and watch how more efficiently the postal systems becomes and start counting the Billions in annual savings.

Happy to help. Just file bankruptcy and get rid of the union. Pay employees something more equitable with what the private sector pays and provide benefits along those lines. Problems solved.

saturday mail out, cut out high paid managers don't really need them.make these people sending junk mail pay first class, no bulk mail!

OK this is going to sound like a complaint session from me. As a dedicated employee for 10 years I have seen a lot just in my office alone.

first: Someone needs to come in and evaluate offices WITHOUT ANYONE, even the Postmaster, knowing that this is happening. For what the ex-coworkers were getting paid, they were not doing the job. The Postmaster was not doing a very good job either, and you should see his desk...

second: When re-evaluating things, whether it be bulk mailings or how to make things more efficient in the production area, get the employees involved that have done the particular job for years. We have great employees there that want to express their opinion and ideas but are never heard..

third: Again, the pay. Come on people, the union has helped to over-pay employees and upper management drastically. The mail carriers are out in the rain, sleet, and snow and DO deserve higher pay, and no I was not a carrier. I have done supervisory, clerk, window clerk, and OIC.

fourth: I worked as an OIC and seen what was brought in and paid out in a month. Cut the hours in these small offices or float Postmasters to do 2 offices. They can handle it in these small communities.

I do not want to see the Post Office go down, but mismanagement of money is the biggest problem.

I hope that someone reads this. If they do and are a member of the Postal Regulatory Commission, you can find ut who I am by looking at my logon ID.

1. Deliver on fewer days
2. Fuel efficient vehicles are often NOT a cost savings over the price/lifetime of a vehicle. But if you HAVE to replace a vehicle, then get a more fuel efficient one.
3. Give up part of the market. Let UPS and FEDEX deliver the larger packages. USPS doesn't need to waste fuel delivering anything over 25 lbs.
4. Utilize opt-in email alerts to customers who can come & get their mail instead of home delivery.
5. Utilize opt in Scan-to-email for certain types of mail.
6. Place excess fees on junk mail. It just clogs up the system and recipients don't want it anyway.
7. Attrition - offer early retirement and don't replace positions.
8. More automated customer tools. Fewer man-hours are needed if you use ATM style customer service. We have one (just one!) of these in our area and they are GREAT. They are open 24x7, whereas the employees are only there 8 hours a day and work too slowly!
9. Centralized pick up and drop off. I like my own mailbox, but grouping them by street is more efficient, and I don't mind walking half a block if it means that ONE mailman can now service 3 times as many houses in the same time period.
10. Get rid of the unions! They were once great and necessary, but now they are killing America. Normalize pay and benefits and if the unions strike, fire them & hire new blood. There are TONS of unemployed people who would love to do those jobs!

I think for the US Post Office to survive it have to charge a fee of one cent for every e-mail and one cent for every text message sent online. The fee will be collected by the online providing company and pay to the Postal Service. I am a retired letter carrier and will hate to see the US Post office fail.

WOW, ITS AMAZING TO SEE HOW MUCH SOME PEOPLE THINK THEY KNOW HOW THE POST OFFICE IS RAN. I AM A CARRIER, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK THAT IT IS EASY SHAME ON YOU, WE DO GO THROUGH SOME TOUGH TIMES. WHEN THERE IS 6 INCHES OR MORE OF SNOW ON THE GROUND. I HAVE SEEN CARRIERS OUT TIL 7:00 AT NITE TRYING TO DELIVER YOUR MAIL, BECAUSE U COME FIRST AND WE WANT TO GET CUSTOMERS MEDICATION ETC..OUT TO U. LETS THINK PEOPLE!

Well honestly, I believe that the post office is a definitive reflection upon how our economy is going to have to change with the times. Even though they are a government funded source of transportation and packaging, they have been effected just as harshly.

What they ought to do, in my opinion of course, is to just raise prices on large load packaging such as the ones in crates or larger-than-a-man sized packages. This would circulate money through the post office and force companies, if they cant pay, to send their business towards smaller businesses which would stimulate the economy further I think.

Again though, this is just in my opinion.

please allow direct dposir if fed bens

please allow direct depodit

thank you

The Postal Service should concentrate on delivering mail, not thinking up ways to compete with the private sector.

That's funny, the postal service deals with money orders that can get easily exploited but they have not come up with such cards that can be constantly monitored and provide more safety towards counterfeits.

Offering prepaid debit cards at post offices may offer some conviences for the "underbanked" as well as other consumers but it will probably not be a high volume sales item. When comparing the layout of a typical post office to a convienience store that offers pre-paid debit cards, there would be logistic issues for placement of the displays for maximum exposure.

Consumers who don't have bank accounts or have access to credit do benefit from these prepaid cards. Having them available in a public locations would not be a bad idea for those individuals.

Yes! They should.... and I have been waitin.

This would be great. I operate a mail order business where I prefer to get paid via USPS money order. It would be great to be able to cash the money orders at the post office and load the cash onto a USPS prepaid debit card to conduct my business transactions online. Plus, the reps tend to be short on drawer cash and a prepaid debit card would resolve this problem.

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