U.S. Postal Service Considers Offering Bitcoin Exchanges

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Soon, your local post office could be more than just a place where they park those cool right-handed steering Grumman LLVs. It could be a high-tech bitcoin exchange. Imagine the convenience of buying a pack of Forever Stamps and making a $1,000 bitcoin wallet withdrawal, all with the help of your friendly postal clerk.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is looking to provide non-bank financial services as a means of generating additional revenue. Last week, the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) held a webinar on bitcoin and other digital currencies to "explore the possibilities" of providing bitcoin exchange services at post offices. The event was attended by representatives from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Booz Allen Hamilton and George Mason University, among others.

The bitcoin webinar discussed the possibility of exchanging digital currencies for other currencies – as well as establishing a USPS digital currency of its own, a "postcoin."

"There were suggestions like if someone made 'postcoin,' 'What would that be?' 'How could that help?' If we were to employ the technology to support post office operations around the world, internationally, how could crypto currency help post offices do their business?" Darrell Duane, a Washington, D.C.-based bitcoin consultant who helped organize the event, told CoinDesk.

The OIG recently released a white paper about the potential profits of providing non-bank financial services, including payment services, reloadable prepaid debit cards, savings accounts and payday loans.

"The Postal Service already provides non-bank financial services like money orders and international money transfers, and many American families could benefit if the Postal Service expanded its offerings," the OIG said in a statement accompanying the report.

Already equipped with money transmitter licenses, U.S. post offices would have a head start in implementing digital currency exchanges.

"Around the world, financial services are the single biggest driver for new revenue for postal operators, and the conditions may be ripe for similar success for the U.S. Postal Service," the USPS Office of Inspector General concluded. "If just 10% of the money underserved Americans currently spend on alternative financial services were instead spent on more affordable products from the Postal Service, it could generate some $8.9 billion in new revenue."

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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