Many Americans say they would support the U.S. Postal Service expanding into basic banking and financial services and would sometimes use those services if they were available, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Expanding post office services to include banking was recently explored in a report by the Postal Service inspector general, and is backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) as a way to bring affordable basic banking services to low-income neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are often ignored by banks and served only by check cashers and payday lenders that charge high fees.
According to the new poll, 44 percent of Americans said they would favor the Postal Service offering basic financial services like bill-paying, check-cashing and small loans. Thirty-seven percent said they were opposed, and 19 percent said they weren't sure.
Many Americans said they were interested in using such services at least some of the time. Eight percent said they would do so often, 23 percent said they would do so sometimes, and 21 percent said they would on rare occasions. Only 37 percent said they would never use those services at a post office. (Another 10 percent said they weren't sure.)
Only 33 percent of Americans said they were very satisfied with financial services available to them now, while 46 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, and 16 percent said they were either not very satisfied (11 percent) or not at all satisfied (5 percent).
The survey also found that more Americans have a favorable opinion of the Postal Service than they do of banks, check cashers or payday lenders. Opinion of the Postal Service was about on par with that of credit unions.
Seventy-four percent said they had a favorable opinion of the Postal Service. Meanwhile, 48 percent had a favorable opinion of banks and only 18 percent had a favorable opinion of retail check cashers and payday lenders. Seventy-one percent said they had a favorable opinion of credit unions.
Of course, favorable opinion doesn't necessarily translate into people using a service. More than twice as many Americans said they most frequently use a bank to cash a check or take out a small loan than said they most often use a credit union, 54 percent to 24 percent. Another 6 percent said they most often use a payday lender or check casher, and 9 percent said they most frequently use something else.
A post office expansion into banking services would improve existing options, a plurality of Americans believe. The poll found people were more likely to say that a Postal Service expansion into basic financial services would provide healthy competition to existing services (47 percent) than say the post office would have an unfair advantage (17 percent).
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 7 to Feb. 9 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.