Charging that any postal banking deal between the U.S. Postal Service and JPMorgan Chase would be an invitation for corruption, the trade group representing the nation’s community banks on Monday asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to investigate reports of such a deal.
“Any exclusive arrangement, negotiated behind closed doors, to allow a profit-driven entity to leverage the USPS branch network is a formula for corruption and should be a serious concern to all Americans who care about the integrity of our public institutions,” Rebeca Romero Rainey, president/CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America wrote in a letter to Robert Taub, chairman of the regulatory commission.
A Postal Service spokeswoman last week confirmed that there have been discussions of allowing JPMorgan Chase to provide limited banking services in post offices.
“To clarify, we had early conversations a while ago about what it might look like to lease space on property for a small handful of ATMs,” the spokeswoman said. “There’s no agreement in place to do so and no imminent plans.” She said those discussions took place before the coronavirus crisis developed.
Romero Rainey said that any discussion of postal banking must occur as part of talks between policymakers and the entire financial services industry, not in a vacuum between an independent government agency and a “single, privileged financial institution.”
She noted that JPMorgan Chase is a “Wall Street bank with a record of abusive and discriminatory consumer practices.”
Proposals to allow post offices to provide banking services have circulated for years as a way to help the Postal Service with its financial problems and as a way to serve underserved areas.
The House version of the FY21 Financial Services appropriations measure calls for a pilot postal banking program and the 2020 national Democratic platform mentions it as an option worth exploring.
However, in two days of testimony on Capitol Hill during the past week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was not asked about the issue.
Credit union trade groups have been vehemently opposed to postal banking, arguing that credit unions are the best option to expand services to people who do not have easy access to financial services.