A new International Hybrid Mail Coalition has been established to push for the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to adopt a worldwide payment system to support international hybrid mail.
The Coalition has been set up by Xplor Italy, part of the global electronic document systems association, and the Global Address Data Association, the group led by Charles Prescott, who is currently in his second term as chairman of the UPU’s Consultative Committee.
Hybrid mail is the name given to a service in which mailers send a message or document electronically, for it to be then printed out and inserted into an envelope for final delivery as a physical letter. Already in use in a number of countries around the world, it means physical letters can be produced locally to their recipients, potentially cutting out most of the physical delivery chain.
The aim of the new Coalition is to carry out research as well as advocacy activities to ultimately encourage the UPU to include a neutral payment platform for international hybrid mail within its terminal dues system, the system that posts currently use between themselves to pay for delivery of international mail.
The Coalition said in a statement issued to the media that it hoped this move would encourage broader use of international direct mail and transactional communications, since settlement rates and schedules would be transparent for both the postal service and customer perspective.
Prescott, the GADA executive director, said the digitalisation of communications, and particularly postal communication, had not yet been met with the attention it deserved at the UPU.
“The terminal dues system rests on the assumption that all mail is still created and delivered in paper form by 19th Century bulk methods,” he said.
“The UPU settlement system has not adapted to the electronic delivery of correspondence and other mail which can be digitized or printed on paper anywhere in the world, across any border with the push of a button.”
Prescott said there was customer demand for using the UPU system to turn electronic messaging into physical form, but said the UPU system did not make this easy.
“New compensation models must be created to account for these new messaging forms,” he said.
Founding members of the new Coalition, who include hybrid mail, printing and document processing specialists including Italian firms Roggero e Tortia, Rotomail, Doxee and Postel US company Click2Mail and French firm DOCAPOST, met in Rome last week to launch the new group.
Enrico Barboglio, the secretary and treasurer of Milan-based Xplor Italia, said the members “share our vision of the future”.
Commenting on the inaugural meeting of the new Coalition, he said: “They have approved our first work plan, which includes research on the size of the market, publication of more information on hybrid mail as an important business tool, and preparation for attendance at the forthcoming UPU Congress in Doha, where a resolution will be debated regarding conducting more research on hybrid mail.”
The UN-affiliated UPU represents 192 countries, helping to coordinate postal activities to ensure a cross-border worldwide network for postal delivery. Its Congress, which takes place every four years, is held this year in Doha, Qatar, from 24th September to 15th October.