Donahoe rules out USPS digital mailbox, but ID services on radar
The US Postal Service is going into digital services – but will not be developing its own digital postal mailbox, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe revealed yesterday. Giving the keynote address at the first day of the PostalVision 2020 Conference close to USPS headquarters in Washington DC, Donahoe said that the digital postal services market was now “wide open” for USPS to seek new revenues.
But he said as far as he was concerned, there were already private sector companies in the business of providing digital mailboxes, so said it would not be an area for USPS to pursue.
“We are getting into the digital space because we think it is important for the Postal Service,” he said.
“We think that the type of alternative mailbox or bill consolidator idea project is probably not for us – there’s many other companies to provide that already. But there are opportunities to link up the physical world with the digital world, and say are there things we haven’t yet thought of?”
Private sector companies providing digital mailboxes in the United States currently include California-based Zumbox and Hearst Corporation’s Manilla, while Seattle-based Doxo provides a well-known bill consolidation platform. Pitney Bowes is set to launch its own digital mailbox, Volly, later in 2012.
Donahoe was discussing potential new digital products as he highlighted a few areas where the Postal Service would seek to generate new revenues to help itself out of its current budget crisis.
After detailing the need to substantially cut costs at USPS, Donahoe said: “We are not taking our eye off revenue. There is a substantial amount of activity going on there.”
Donahoe, who has appointed former chief marketing officer Paul Vogel to head up a new Digital Solutions team at USPS, said the Postal Service would now look to discuss ideas with academics, and “get our foot in the water” regarding new digital services.
He was also keen to stress that USPS was also very much listening to its customers to judge what kind of digital services would be in demand.
After his speech, the Postmaster General suggested one area of particular potential for the Postal Service in venturing into the digital space was to provide some kind of identity authenticating service.
Other posts around the globe have already started providing identity services, which can range from providing identity documentation through post offices up to services that allow consumers to register at post offices for a “digital identity” that they can then use to log in to a range of different government and financial websites.
“President Obama has a task force looking into this now,” Donahoe said yesterday. “We think we will have a key role in this going forward – certainly in the physical world, and even in the digital world.”
Providing secure e-government services an communications could be another area for the Postal Service, according to the Postmaster General, but he suggested there was a question over how it would be funded.
“People expect digital services to be free, and that can be an issue when you’re looking to monetise them,” Donahoe said.