The banking industry, struggling to make the profits it used to, is using the travails of another industry for its marketing: The U.S. Postal Service.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. are all using the looming threat of postal service cuts to sell bank services such as electronic payments and remittance pickups that can speed payments likely to be slowed by diminished mail service, Reuters reported.
"It is a conversation starter," said Daniel Peltz, head of Wells Fargo's treasury management division.
For banks, electronic transactions save as much as one-third of the cost of processing checks, according to industry estimates. The potential savings are greatest for bigger banks, which reap additional economies of scale by running more transactions through the computer systems they have built.
Banks are looking for any chance to save money these days, as tough markets and a weak economy hit their profits, and traditional revenue streams dry up due to stricter regulations.
Banks, however, may find it challenging to win more payment business because a delay in mail service is advantageous to bill payers who want to hold on to their funds as long as possible, Atkinson said. Payers typically drive the decision making around how they pay a supplier, surveys by Aite Group have found.
If more business turns to electronic payments, that could further hurt the Postal Service, which lost $5.1 billion in fiscal year 2011 and could see annual losses upward of $21 billion by 2016 if major changes are not made, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said.