Could the U.S. Postal Service help the nearly 70 million Americans who are cut off in some way from the mainstream financial system? We’re talking about people who, because they lack ready or full access to normal banking services, paid $89 billion in fees and interest to alternative financial service outlets such as payday lenders and check cashers in 2012 alone. They are the financially underserved – also known as the underbanked or unbanked – and many of them are one unexpected expense away from bankruptcy or homelessness.
It’s back to the future for the requirement that all letter and flat automation mailings be Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) compliant to obtain discounts. Mailers were expecting implementation this week of the Full-Service requirement, but the U.S. Postal Service pushed back the date until 2015 because the Postal Regulatory Commission ruled that the mandate constituted a price increase that would have busted the inflation-based price cap.
No one can claim 2013 was an uneventful year in the postal world. Early in the year, the U.S. Postal Service made the blockbuster announcement that it would move to 5-day delivery, but by mid-year it had changed course and pulled the plan. Then, on Christmas Eve, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued a momentous decision to approve the exigent price increase, only temporarily through surcharges. Sprinkled in between were drones, barcodes, and Sunday delivery.