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.”

Identity

“There are opportunities to link up the physical world with the digital world”

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.

About The Author

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor is the Editor of Triangle’s Mail & Express Review Magazine and the www.postandparcel.info portal. Ian has been a business journalist for almost 30 years, editing and writing for a wide range of magazines and newspapers with a particular focus on the transport and logistics industries.

1 Comment

  1. Skye Shepard

    I have to wonder why in the world the USPS would only just be addressing the “digital team?” Seems to me like a severe lack of vision on the part of Postal management to only just be working on these avenues for revenue. A couple of other things trouble me about this article regarding Donahoe and the USPS. First of all, I personally do not see what the need of all these conferences and meetings are. It seems to me that these days, a great deal of money could be saved either by sending something in writing or doing a teleconference instead of spending thousands of dollars so everyone can get together and have a great lunch or dinner. Secondly, considering the problems we currently have with Postmasters in small towns (and large also) giving out confidential information that they are prohibited from doing, why would I want to entrust them with even more personal information that they can use and abuse? I know for a fact that the Postmaster of my small town post office has given out peoples’ personal addressing information to other townfolk who had no legal right to the information. To me, even though much of the workforce in the Postal Service is honest and upright, the lack of character and integrity is rampant in the USPS, starting from the top office (Donahoe) down to the lowest levels. In fact, it seems to me like the lower employees are the greatest asset this organization has. The organization is far too narrow-minded and top-heavy with management non-performers.

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