LA Times - Post offices in many other nations, including Britain, France, China and Japan, also serve as banks. And from 1911 to 1967, the United States Postal Savings System offered accounts with annual interest capped at 2%, to reduce competition with commercial banks.
Deposits at U.S. postal banks surged during the Great Depression and World War II, when many consumers viewed the accounts as more secure than those in commercial banks. But as those banks opened more branches and increased interest rates after the war, the postal banking system fell out of favor and the federal government shut it down.
The Great Recession has led to calls for the revival of postal banks as many cash-strapped households have been forced to seek payday loans and other alternative financial products.
A Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. survey found that about 9.6 million households in 2013 had no one with a bank account. An additional 24.8 million households had accounts but also used alternative financial services, such as payday loans.