Postal savings systems provide depositors who do not have access to banks a safe and convenient method to save money. Many nations have operated banking systems involving post offices to promote saving money among the poor.
In 1861, Great Britain became the first nation to offer such an arrangement. It was supported by Sir Rowland Hill, who successfully advocated the penny post, and William Ewart Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who saw it as a cheap way to finance the public debt. At the time, banks were mainly in the cities and largely catered to wealthy customers. Rural citizens and the poor had no choice but to keep their funds at home or on their persons.
The original Post Office Savings Bank was limited to deposits of £30 per year with a maximum balance of £150. Interest was paid at the rate of 2.5 percent per annum on whole pounds in the account. Later, the limits were raised to a maximum of £500 per year in deposits with no limit on the total amount. Within five years of the system's establishment, there were over 600,000 accounts and £8.2 million on deposit. By 1927, there were twelve million accounts—one in four Britons—with £283 million (£15,502 million today) on deposit.
The British system first offered only savings accounts. In 1880, it also became a retail outlet for government bonds, and in 1916 introduced war savings certificates, which were renamed National Savings Certificates in 1920. In 1956, it launched a lottery bond, the Premium Bond, which became its most popular savings certificate. Post Office Savings Bank became National Savings Bank in 1969, later renamed National Savings and Investments (NS&I), an agency of HM Treasury. While continuing to offer National Savings services, the (then) General Post Office, created the National Giro in 1968 (privatized as Girobank and acquired by Alliance & Leicester in 1989).
Many other countries adopted such systems soon afterwards. Japan established a postal savings system in 1875 and the Netherlands government started a systems in 1881 under the name Rijkspostspaarbank (national postal savings bank), this was followed by many other countries over the next 50 years. The later part of the 20th century saw a reversal where these systems were abolished or privatized.
Brazil instituted a postal banking system in 2002, where the national postal service (ECT) formed a partnership with the largest private bank in the country (Bradesco) to provide financial services at post offices. The current partnership is with Bank of Brazil.
In Bulgaria, the postal banking system was a subsidiary of Bulgarian Posts until 1991, when Bulgarian Postbank was created. In the years that followed, Bulgarian Postbank was privatized and the relationship between post offices and bank offices became weaker. Postal banking services ceased to be available in post offices in 2011.
Canada Post offered banking services via its Post Office Savings Bank, created by the Post Office Act in April 1868, less than a year following the nation's confederation. A century later, the Post Office Savings Bank was shut down in 1968-69. Since at least the early 2010s, postal banking has been discussed and studied periodically, with postal unions backing the idea.
In the People's Republic of China, the Postal Savings Bank of China (zh:中国邮政储蓄银行) was split from China Post in 2007 and established as a state-owned limited company. It continues to provide banking services at post offices.
In Finland, Postisäästöpankki ("Post Savings Bank") was founded in 1887. In 1970 its name was shortened to Postipankki ("Post Bank"). In 1998 it was changed to a commercial bank named Leonia Bank. Later, it was merged with an insurance company to form Sampo Group, and the bank was renamed Sampo Bank. It had a few own offices, but also post offices performed its banking operations until 2000. In 2007, Sampo Bank was sold to the Danish Danske Bank.
Deutsche Postbank has a postal banking system. Deutsche Postbank was a subsidiary of Deutsche Post until 2008, when 30% of Deutsche Post's shares were sold to Deutsche Bank. Postal banking services are still available at all branches of Deutsche Post and Deutsche Postbank.
In 1919 the Postal Savings Bank notes were issued under the decree of the Revolutionary Governing Council of the Hungarian Soviet Republic by the Magyar Postatakarékpénztár (Hungarian Postal Savings Bank).
Japan Post Bank, part of the post office was the world's largest savings bank with 198 trillion yen (US$1.7 trillion) of deposits as of 2006, much from conservative, risk-averse citizens. The government was criticized for using these funds to engage in uneconomical infrastructure projects—what in America would be called pork barrel spending. The state-owned Japan Post Bank business unit of Japan Post was formed in 2007, as part of a ten-year privatization programme, intended to achieve fully private ownership of the postal system by 2017.
Korea Post, operated by South Korean government, has its postal banking and postal insurance business since 1982. Banking counter and ATM is available in all post office, excluding postal agencies and delivery centers. Korea Post ATM is connected with all national and regional banks via KFTC. Banking counter is also opened for Korea Development Bank, Industrial Bank, Citibank Korea, and Jeonbuk Bank customers.
In 1881 the Dutch government founded the Rijkspostspaarbank (National Postal Savings Bank). In 1986 it was privatised, together with the Postgiro service, as the Postbank N.V. Postbank merged with a commercial bank that would eventually become ING Bank.
Post Office Savings Bank was established in 1867 by the New Zealand government to give New Zealand investors a place to deposit their savings. This included the provision of children's savings accounts known as Post Office Squirrel savings account. The Post Office Savings bank was split into PostBank in 1987 and was acquired by a commercial bank two years later ending the bank.
Postbanken was founded in 1948 after major political battle as Norges Postsparebank, however the maximum amount allowed to be saved per person was set to NOK 10,000. In 1948 the bank had services provided at 3,600 post offices and post outlets. It was sold in 1999 and became part of the commercial bank DNB ASA.
The Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), also known as PostalBank, is the state-owned postal savings system in the Philippines. It is the smallest of the Philippines' three state-owned banks and is governed separately from PhilPost. In late 2017, state bank Land Bank of the Philippines acquired PPSB at zero value and made it as a subsidiary. It is now known as Overseas Filipino Bank.
Between 1 April 1929 to 31 March 1947, the Post and Telegraph Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Transportation of Thailand has run Saving Office before becoming Government Savings Bank (GSB)
Lien Viet Post Joint Stock Commercial Bank or LienVietPostBank (LPB), formerly known as LienVietBank, is a Vietnamese retail bank that provides banking products and services through its own transaction points across 42 cities and provinces and 1,031 postal transaction offices nationwide. LienVietPostBank is considered to be in the top 10 biggest banks in terms of assets and equity  and ranked 36th in VNR500 -Top 500 largest private companies in Vietnam in 2013. The Bank is striving to become the bank for everyone in Vietnam by focusing on banking products for households and small and medium enterprises especially in the agriculture sector, and expanding its activities to rural and remote areas via the post.
The Post Office branded services are similar to some of NS&I's services, and include instant savings, Individual Savings Accounts, seasonal savings and savings bonds. Post Office Ltd also provides a Post Office card account that accepts only direct deposits of certain state pension and welfare payments, permitting cash withdrawals over the counter. This last account is offered in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions until 2010, through investment banking and asset management company JP Morgan. (This contract has recently been awarded to JP Morgan to run till 2015)