It’s a far cry from the postal banking system that progressives favor and bankers dislike, but the U.S. Postal Service’s entry into the check-cashing space is still making a big splash.
Loud responses Monday from both boosters and critics reflected a widespread perception that the pilot program could be a first step toward a wider implementation of postal banking. The modest scope of the program contrasted with the size of the reaction it generated.
The recently launched program is only operating in four offices — in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Falls Church, Virginia and the Bronx, New York — out of the Postal Service’s more than 30,000 locations nationwide. The USPS is only accepting business and payroll checks of $500 or less, shutting out larger checks and any personal checks. The post office will not provide cash in exchange for the checks, and will instead let customers purchase a single-use gift card of up to $500.