Coronavirus prompts renewed calls for postal banking, faster payments

Federal efforts to provide stimulus checks to Americans hit by the coronavirus’ economic fallout have revived calls for better government-backed financial delivery systems.

Millions of households haven’t received their $1,200 payments nearly a month and a half after Congress authorized them. That has led some progressives and other observers to demand reforms to improve underbanked consumers’ access to the financial system, such as authorizing the U.S. Postal Service to provide financial services or creating a Federal Reserve-backed digital wallet. Some have even lamented the slow pace of the Fed’s implementation of a real-time payments network.

“It’s a real shame that even when Congress kind of basically agrees about the money that we need to deploy, our systems are so broken that we can’t even get it to the people for whom it’s intended in an expedient way,” said Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and a former Democratic congressional staffer.


continue reading »