April 4, 2016 (RARC-WP-16-007)

  • While post offices sold $21 billion worth of money orders in fiscal year 2015, money order sales have plunged 60 percent from their peak in 2000.
  • About 1,200 high volume post offices grew money order sales by at least 10 percent in the past 3 years, showing that improving sales is achievable.
  • Selling money orders through digital channels could have significant benefits for customers, and the Postal Service could assign a strategic manager to help modernize and stabilize this important product.

During the Civil War, the Post Office Department introduced money orders as a safe means for Union soldiers to send money home to their families. A century-and-a-half later, postal money orders remain essential to the lives of millions of Americans who use them to make $21 billion worth of payments annually.

But as alternatives from other providers have appeared and broad shifts toward electronic forms of payment have occurred, the number of postal money orders sold has fallen by 60 percent from its peak in 2000.

To better meet the needs of those who purchase money orders and the businesses that accept them as a form of payment — saving them time and money — postal money orders could be modernized. The Postal Service also would benefit from a rejuvenated money order business, which is strategically important on many levels. The OIG has identified some digital strategies as well as some retail best-practices that could help the Postal Service achieve these goals.

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Comments (4)

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  • anon

    Post office money orders are horrible. Why do you sell them if you don't have cash on hand to cash them.

    Nov 06, 2016
  • anon

    yes, if you are talking re-designing it. i know when i pay and use money orders many companies make it a requirement that it be a Post Office money order. a money is like a guaranteed check -- especially when cash or credit card is the only accepted way to pay. then it's fairly cheap and there's no electronic connection after you purchase. but to comment on the report ---60 pages, all about a money order

    May 04, 2016
  • anon

    In regards to our office and the sale of M.O.'s. I agree there has been an increase in M.O. Sales. Agree that the amounts are larger then in past. Agree that 71% are purchased with cash. But the rest of the report appears to not reflect the usage. And in our area a cell phone is an extravagance as the ability to have a bank account. And "if" they own cell phones, they are very unlikely to use it for any other purpose then the convenience of a phone call, not to use an app. Some of this is due to the high age in demographics. Fixed incomes and no desire to enter the electronic age. Not that the report suggested it would, but I would hate to see the USPS stop the status quo. A simple cash exchange for a MO is all these customers need, nothing more.

    Apr 05, 2016
  • anon

    I think most places already have digital payment systems, or WU...which is going the way of bitcoin these days.Then theres personal checks..and reloadable debit cards...if people cant figure out paypal or wiper or bitcoin or square or how to send a gift card, then why are they trying to buy a postal money order? My corner store can make those! Post office is inconvenient.If yall didnt stick to bankers hours, mebbe.

    Apr 04, 2016

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Contributors

  • Bryant Switzky, Virgil Ian Stanford, and Charles Crum contributed to this report

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