JPMorgan Chase Pilot Proposed For Post Offices

Independent Bankers Want Close Scrutiny Of Any Deal

Keith Griffin

August 27, 2020

Post office building

The United States Postal Service has been attracting a lion’s share of attention lately for cutbacks in services and other changes. One postal item not receiving much attention is proposed plans for locating for-profit banking services at post offices.

The New York Post reports USPS officials are considering a pilot program that would allow JPMorgan Chase to lease space at post offices for ATMs and provide other financial services at locations across the country, according to a memo obtained by the Capitol Forum, a DC newsletter.

“The pact could give Chase access to new clients at USPS retail locations which number more than 35,000 nationwide. It could also provide the USPS with some sorely-needed revenue as it faces a crushing, $160 billion debt load,” the article said.

The Independent Community Bankers Association wants close scrutiny of Chase being inside post offices. In a letter to U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Robert G. Taub, Rebeca Romero Rainey, president and CEO of the community bankers group, called for a transparent process, noting that JPMorgan Chase has a record of discriminatory consumer practices that could threaten local communities. Specifically, the agency should follow federal regulations and issue a request for proposal before proceeding, she wrote.

"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," Romero Rainey wrote. "If USPS is considering creating exclusive access to their network, it should do so through a transparent and fully competitive process."

A spokeswoman for JPMorgan told the New York Post the bank had talks with the USPS “several months ago about what it might look like to lease a small number of spaces to place ATMs to better serve some historically underserved communities.” Adding “These were very preliminary conversations – there is no agreement in place and no imminent plans to move forward.”

Back in April, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, renewed her call for Congress to bring back postal banking. It’s an issue she’s been fighting for over the past 12 years.

Gillibrand argues postal banking would "provide basic banking services to the millions of Americans without a bank account or those forced to use predatory financial products like payday lenders." The senator originally made her comments in a New York Times op-ed.

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