Big Banks Ignore Our Best Interests; Is Postal Banking a Remedy?

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When I was 10 years old, I had a light blue piggy bank. I always knew that when I put a coin in, I would get it back. I never had to worry about being charged interest or having to pay fees.

Canadian banks and other financial institutions do provide an important service. They guarantee that individuals and organizations can save their money securely, can borrow money to invest, and can seek financial advice, among many things.

However, banks and most other financial institutions are businesses. Their priority is profit. This reality can leave the average bank user at a disadvantage. Following a recent CBC Go Public investigation, large Canadian banks across the board have been accused of overselling to consumers.

In the past few months, over a thousand employees of Canada’s five largest banks have come forward saying that they were pressured to offer services contrary to what was in the best interest of clients. This has sparked outrage, and has even led to a parliamentary committee review.

Enforcing stricter regulations and establishing more transparency in the banking sector would help to alleviate these problems. However, there is an additional alternative which could further benefit the average Canadian: Postal Banking.

As was done in Canada up until 1968, our country’s postal operator, Canada Post, could also offer banking services. A Canadian postal bank, operating within the framework of a crown corporation, would focus on providing services that are affordable for consumers, rather than profitable for the institution itself.

For the individual, this could include many improvements such as reduced interest rates, easier access to loans, and fewer service charges. With such offers made available to the public, private banks would feel pressured to follow suit. As a result, the cost of banking for all individuals and organizations could be significantly decreased.

However, that is not the only advantage to Postal Banking. Another benefit is improved accessibility. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), between 3% and 15% of Canadians do not have a bank account. This can in part be attributed to the high number of Canadians who live in remote areas where the number of bank branches is not sufficient to reach everyone.

This has especially affected Indigenous Canadians. In a report compiled for the CCPA,by John Anderson, a former director of parliamentary affairs for the Official Opposition, it was found that there existed only 54 bank or credit union branches in the 615 Indigenous and Metis communities across Canada.

Unlike bank branches, post offices are already located throughout the country. These branches could easily be expanded to offer financial servicesto all Canadians.

But what about the cost? How can our country afford to take on the financial burden that would be associated with transforming our national post service to include banking? Interestingly enough, this change has great potential to actually generate revenue.

Several studies and experts predict that Canada Post would be able to tap into the more than $35 billion in profits that Canada’s largest banks received last year. At a time when our postal service is striving to retain its relevance, this change would present a viable and affordable service to the Canadian public.

Our country’s banking system is designed to benefit large banks. However, creative solutions, like postal banking, could make it so that Canadians can putjust as much trust into their real banks as they have put into their piggy banks.

ARTICLE BY JAY FALLIS

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6 Comments

  1. If the government regulated the desert and you’d end up with a shortage of sand. This is wasteful foolishness. The post office is alrwady fading into irrelevance. Let it die already instead of making taxpayers foot the hefty bill for 3% of the population. The regular public does not support rich union salaries and pensions for cashiers and staff because the rest of us simply don’t get anything close to comparable for similar work.

  2. Crab mentality, that’s the spirit! Nevermind Canada Post was profitable before much of this restructuring began under the direction of certain “business-minded” leaders. You know, profit, as in a boon to taxpayers rather than a bill?

  3. You must be awfully dumb to actually believe that government is looking out for anyone but their own paycheck. Private citizens do not need more layers of “crab” bureaucracy and they definitely don’t need to be paying extra taxes to offer those shills unnecessary services. How did government handle the housing bubble? They created that mess all by themselves.

  4. Thanks everybody for reading!

    I understand your concerns. Although this is a hypothetical scenario, there are real world examples that suggest that this would be a good policy to pursue. Judging from Canada Post’s previous experience in the banking sector and the experience of some 80 countries which use postal banking including France and India, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that a Canada Post banking service could be lucrative while also saving money for the average Canadian.

    Best,

    Jay

  5. Pity the buggy whip makers for the advent of automobiles. Maybe these overpaid union drones could go back to school and learn a(nother) useful skill beyond carrying mail, which makes a laughably thin CV and far too fat a paycheck to do too little. The public has no appetite for all this complaining coming from the cushiest of government bloat. Lay them all off or privatize it completely and let them figure it out on their own.

  6. India’s fabulous experiment with demonetization isn’t exactly going well, and France ends up in a general worker’s strike every other year because of the price of croissants or that they have to work three whole days a week. Jay, your examples are terrible.

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