OTTAWA, Feb. 10, 2014 /CNW/ – Canada Post Corporation (CPC) conducted a secret four-year study on postal banking, which seems to indicate that getting into financial services would be “a win-win strategy” and a “proven money-maker” for the corporation. CPC’s research study was stopped cold in the fall of 2013, just before the post office announced a five-point plan of massive cuts and steep rate hikes.
Blacklock’s Reporter obtained the internal report, including a management report entitled Banking: A Proven Diversification Strategy, through an Access to Information request. 701 of its 811 pages were redacted.
“Based on what we have learned so far,” says Gayle Bossenberry, 1st National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), “it seems the report was on track to confirm the recommendations of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), and vindicate what postal workers have been saying: there’s a great potential here to keep the public postal service self-sufficient. But instead they killed the research and buried the report.”
Other countries like Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy, and France have bolstered the fortunes of their post offices with revenues from postal banking. In these countries, the public enjoys a stable public postal service, and increased access to banking. According to the Blacklock’s article on the report, “profits in Canadian banking averaged 20.5 percent a year”, including President’s Choice and Canadian Tire’s financial services.
John Anderson — author of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s 2013 paper on postal banking — was surprised by the CPC study but not its content: “I think anyone seriously studying the subject would see the same opportunity. With 6500 post offices, Canada Post could have the most extensive financial services infrastructure in the country, right off the bat.”
“If they were looking at postal banking, why did they consistently tell CUPW that it was not an option they would consider?” asked Bossenberry, adding “And who killed the study?”
India Post, the Department of Posts, which has already been offering services like savings accounts, postal life insurance, Public Provident Fund, recurring deposits, pension payments and money transfer, will soon have its own full-fledged bank.
Bank of India RBI within a month or so when it would issue licences to the short-listed applicants.
A senior official of the General Post Office here told Khaleej Times that the PBI would provide banking services, including accepting of deposits from the public for lending or investment. In addition to deposit schemes, the PBI will also provide loans to general public and corporates like any regular bank. The first such bank with an ATM will be opened at the computerised Navrangpura post-office in the city.
Last week, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) publicly launched its campaign to have Canada Post pursue banking services as a future area of business. The proposal to expand Canada Post into financial services is an important opportunity to innovate by providing quality financial services for Canadians while ensuring the crown corporation’s financial success over the long term.
Regrettably, Canada Post has so far been unwilling to seriously consider this proposal, instead entertaining proposals to adapt to a reduction in mail volume by cutting back service and moving to alternate-day delivery. Equally remarkably, the Conference Board of Canada’s recent report into the future of the postal service in Canada also dismissed financial services as a worthy option for Canada Post by claiming that “Canada has a highly developed financial services sector,” thereby negating the need for a postal bank.
Of the 26 aspirants who want to set up a bank, the government arm, India Post, appears to be best placed to fulfil the objective of financial inclusion. The Reserve Bank of India has said new banks will have to set up at least three branches in villages with a population of less than 10,000 for each branch they establish in other areas.
Unlike what many believe, a Post Bank of India (PBI) will be a completely new entity with no legacies of a government department and very little to do with its parent, except using some of its network. It will have an independent board and just two members from the government, one from the finance ministry and another from the department of post.
Geographically, the India Post network beats the entire banking system in the country. The ubiquitous mail carrier is present in more than 1,55,000 locations in India, 90 percent of them in villages.
By applying for a banking license, India Post has shown that it acknowledges the need for change. And with an extensive network that far surpasses other banks in the country, it is also poised to benefit the most with a license.
At a conference on public banking services held by the Public Banking Institute (PBI) in San Francisco last month, two postal unions announced that they would join forces to push for the reinstatement of simple banking services in post offices:
James Sauber, the chief of staff of the National Association of Letter Carriers announced that both his union and the American Postal Workers Union will partner with PBI in a campaign to reinstate simple checking and savings accounts in post offices. The U.S. Postal Service offered simple affordable banking services used by many working class people from 1911 to 1967 when the system was dismantled. “In the 1940s, 4.2 million American had accounts at the post office,” Sauber said. In other countries, postal banks remain important institutions, most notably in Germany, Britain, New Zealand launched in 2002, Brazil launched in 2000 and Italy, although Japan is beginning to privatize its postal bank, the largest in the world. The U.S. postal workers are intrigued not only by postal banks’ potential to offer social inclusion—28% of Americans don’t have full access to banking services—but also by the revenue generated that supports the postal system as a whole. “Don’t dismantle this institution—reinvent it,” he said.
OTTAWA- People like the idea of Canada Post making money through financial services according to a new poll.
Close to two out of every three respondents (63%) to a Stratcom poll supported Canada Post expanding revenue-generating services, including financial services like bill payments, insurance and banking.
CUPW asked Stratcom to conduct the poll in order to contribute to the debate on the future of Canada Post. The post office is currently conducting a public consultation on its future, focusing on cuts.
“Canada Post has options other than cutting,” said CUPW National President Denis Lemelin. “It could follow the lead of post offices in other countries by leveraging its network and adding lucrative banking services. Our poll results suggest there would be support for such a move.”
The Stratcom poll also found that there is no appetite for major changes such as postal privatization and deregulation. 69 % of poll respondents opposed privatization of Canada Post and 71% opposed allowing private companies to deliver lettermail in Canada.
These results are drawn from a Stratcom national online survey which interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,514 adult Canadians between May 24th to 26th, 2013.
All post offices across India will offer online banking services to customers by May next year, according to Killi Kruparani, Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology of India.
India Post offers a wide range of financial services such as savings accounts, insurance and provident funds. The network of 155,000 post offices across the country provides critical services in rural areas that lack banking infrastructure.