In an attempt to salvage its remaining relevance, the U.S. Postal Service has hit on what might be an interesting possibility: digital currency. On January 29, the organization hosted a webinar with experts discussing how it might make use of Bitcoin. Coindesk has a recap.
Attended by members of the Universal Postal Union and the World Bank as well as Bitcoin proponents like the Bitcoin Foundation, the webinar was a serious, unexpected attempt to come to grips with the world of digital currency.
Post offices already have governmental money transmitter licenses, which means they can work with Bitcoin legally, unlike many Bitcoin start-ups. One suggestion was that the organization could create its own "Postcoin," according to Bitcoin consultant Darrell Duane, a new digital currency based on Bitcoin that the USPS would regulate.
With their pre-existing network of physical outlets, the USPS could become the kind of de-centralized bank that Bitcoin currently lacks. While Bitcoin ATMs are popping up around the world, there aren't any teller windows that a confused individual (see: everyone) could go up to and ask questions about the digital currency.
If the USPS became a hub for Bitcoin, it could jump back into relevance as an international currency transmission business, undercutting the egregious rates charged by companies like Western Union with the help of the digital currency's near-frictionless exchange platforms. It might even be profitable.
As Christian Jaag, managing partner at Swiss Economics, said during the webinar, "There's no need for institution," with Bitcoin, "but there is a role for institution." With the USPS already considering how it could help those underserved by banks, it's worth thinking about making a concentrated move into digital currency.