The U.S. Postal Service's inspector general said Friday that it is seeking proposals from outside groups about possible postal banking services.

The office is looking for research on ways for the post office to expand its offerings to include alternative financial services, such as check cashing and mobile payments.

The research would take a closer look at the types of products that could be offered at postal branches. It would also assess implementation strategies, including potential partnerships with a single bank or "multiple financial institutions based on region or product."

"In laying out potential plans of action and analyzing the pros and cons of each one, the [inspector general's office] aims to inform the Postal Service and other stakeholders as they consider how to move forward," the office said in its request.

The research would serve as a follow up to a controversial white paper released in January. In that paper, postal IG David Williams unveiled a proposal for the Postal Service to raise approximately $9 billion by providing financial services to 68 million unbanked and underbanked consumers.

The proposal sparked a fierce debate within the industry. Liberal lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren,D-Mass., have supported it as a way to both fix the post office's perennial budget woes, while at the same time addressing the needs of low-income families.

But postal banking has so far failed to gain traction among bankers. Shortly after the IG's proposal was released, Cam Fine, the chief executive of the Independent Community Bankers of America, called it the "worst idea since the Ford Edsel."

The deadline for the proposals is Nov. 18.

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