I noticed this article and was thinking about the possibilities of the U.S. Post Office seriously considering Bitcoin.


Too Soon? Too many people don't understand crytocurrencies?


There are some fundamental legal problems with this, as the Post Office is a creature of the Constitution and thus a creation of the United States government. It's not at all clear that the Post Office has authority to engage in brokering financial transactions. It's even doubtful that Congress has the power to allow the Post Office to do that.

That said, for the sake of argument, let's assume the Post Office starts brokering Bitcoin transactions. What then? Well, the point of Bitcoin (oversimplification ahead) is that it is not controlled by a government, is anonymous, and is secure. How many Bitcoin users are going to transact Bitcoin with a government agency whose job it is to route documents to people all over the planet, but is notorious for losing, mishandling, or misdelivering its cargo? I don't see it.

For that matter, how many American citizens or politicians will support inserting the Post Office into the volatile and rapidly evolving crypto-currency world? The two things the Post Office has done predictably over the last few years, other than deliver other people's mail to me, are lose money and ask for taxpayer bailouts. Add in the complexity of a major financial institution and the possibility of a market crash, and you have the makings of a major disaster (think something like LTCM + national debt horror rolled into one).

This doesn't mean I see some nefarious scheme here to "take over" Bitcoin or something. It just means this sounds like a hairbrained idea thought up by a bureaucrat who doesn't really know what Bitcoin actually is.

  • The postal service already brokers lots of financial transactions, thanks to its money order product. So I don't see constitutional obstructions to them entering this market. Feb 8 '14 at 15:28
  • @NateEldredge You're right about the money orders. My point is that the legal objections exist and are real, not that I think there's much chance they would actually prevent the PO from going forward with this idea. I think the constitutional objections are valid and that the same logic means that the PO has no business selling money orders, either. That said, obviously the PO does sell money orders, so anyone bringing a legal challenge to this proposal would have a tough row to hoe in Congress and the courts.
    – elixenide
    Feb 8 '14 at 15:56

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