Most Postal Operators have been operating since their respective countries’ inception; they were always a backbone of their governments, citizens, businesses, and overall country development and evolution. For decades, they have been providing one of the most critical services for their customers: communication.
As soon as their governments designated them, they become part of the United Nations’ Universal Postal Union and acquire some obligations and commitments that no other organization in their country is subject to, including universal reach (provide messages and services to all people in the country, regardless of the location), services affordability (so everybody can have access to their services) and many other obligations, granting, for example, social and financial inclusion of all citizens, financial services for the unbanked and many other services.
Needless to say, many Postal Operators are currently facing some difficulties; despite their countrywide, universal services, affordable services, etc., new technologies and digitalization tend to leave Postal Operators behind, like:
- Extreme reduction in paper-based letters, messages, and documents being sent replaced by digital communications (email, SMS, web, Instant Messaging…), where the Postal Services seem not to be needed.
- Great increase in parcels delivery because of the blooming of eCommerce purchases, which brings great competition from the private couriers’ sector with a wide global presence and no universal reach or social inclusion obligations.
- Increase in Mobile Money transactions, led by Telco Operators (not even banks), brings additional difficulties for the Postal Sector in their financial inclusion objectives through their Postal Banking services.
- Difficulties in financing required infrastructures to fulfil their obligations, as most Postal Services are Public Sector owned, limiting their capabilities to find financing in the regular markets.
- Last mile delivery costs are difficult to reduce to cope with private competition, employees, vehicle fleets, maintenance.
But there are some facts we often tend to forget, especially when we talk about digitalization.
Of course, it is easy to send an email instead of a paper letter or document.
Of course, it is easy to open a Mobile Money account with a Telco Operator.
Of course, it is easy to digitalize processes and documents
And, of course, it is easy to stay competitive with no real social and financial inclusion obligations, where private couriers might not serve a village or region just because it is not profitable.
Digitalization landscape; evidential and admissibility value
But we often forget that when sending messages or documents via a regular email, there is no admissible proof of delivery issued by a trusted third party. We often forget that when we open a Mobile Money account at a Telco Operator, we are getting the services and guarantees of a Telco Operator, not those of a bank or a government. We will not easily get all financial services we might need (or get micro-loans, for example, at abusive 30+% interest rates).
We often forget that whatever you cannot demonstrate, it never happened from a legal and commercial standpoint.
We often forget that a log is a log, and an email is an email, not a witnessed communication. And as such, that log or that email does have the same value as the declaration of one of the parties but never the admissible evidential value of, for example, a Registered Post Mail.
We often consider that a Digital Signature is enough evidence, but reality is pretty different; we are not talking about Documents Signature, but about messages and documents delivery, signed or not.
A message or document can be signed or not signed but, if there is no evidence of its delivery, such message or document was never legally delivered and might have no effect. Even if digitally signed.
In the paper world, as an example, a traffic fine might not be signed by anybody. But it will have a legal effect because it is delivered through the Postal Operator Registered Post Mail Service; The Postal Operator will witness and certify that the traffic fine was delivered on a certain date and time.
A bank account overdraft might not be signed by anybody, but it does have a commercial and legal effect when delivered via the Postal Operator Registered Post Mail Service.
Court Resolutions are usually handed over or sent via Registered Post Mail to all interested parties and never delivered through a regular, non-registered Post Letter.
So, why do we believe that sending a regular, unregistered email, SMS, or other message is valid enough and can be used as admissible evidence? Why do we tend to consider that, as we keep a copy of the email we sent (that we can, of course, manipulate and modify), we have any admissible evidence of the email we sent, and we understand that the email was also received?
What if, one day, we send a regular email, and the recipient simply denies having received it? What if that email contains a Bank Account Overdraft Notification, a Traffic Fine, a Court Ruling, or a Signed Contract… and the recipient still denies its reception?
Infrastructure requirements for digitalization and how to lead in an adverse environment
On the other side, when discussing digitalization, we assume some minimum requirements to be imposed on people; laptops, smartphones, mobile Internet, network functions virtualization, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence.
But reality, when considering inclusion as a priority, we cannot count on those technologies. In some parts of the world, internet access penetration is still below 15% of the population, and only mobile voice and SMS are above 80% penetration.
Many rural areas still cannot even dream of Mobile Internet. Smartphones sometimes make no sense because of pricing and mobile internet coverage. And prices for mobile Internet, where available, might mean a need to choose between eating or messaging through WhatsApp.
But Postal Operators still have their Universal Reach and Affordability obligations. And inclusion as a top priority.
We believe infrastructure should not be an excuse and, in the hands of Postal Operators, current infrastructures can provide digitalization, universal reach and inclusion.
Some facts demonstrate that services can adapt to existing technology and infrastructures for the population instead of waiting for infrastructures to be available; many World Bank research results show doubtless facts: mobile phone penetration and mobile internet penetration have a direct, exponential impact on social and economic development of countries, communities, and societies.
So, are some parts of the world condemned not to evolve until certain infrastructures are available, as per technology requirements? Are people’s lives in the hands of technology companies and not in their governments’?
If we carefully review the Mobile Money Case worldwide, we might be surprised to see some details, like:
- With probably the lowest mobile internet penetration, Africa leads the World Mobile Money business and transactions, with approx. 50% of worldwide share.
- Some mobile money initiatives abandoned (for failure in acceptance) in Europe are the most successful ones in the world when implemented in Africa.
- In some African countries, 90+% of people (families) count on a Mobile Money Account, while less than 7% do have a Bank Account.
- Most surprising one: Mobile Money is blooming, especially in an environment with no Smartphones, no Mobile Internet (not even 3G). No post-paid mobile subscriptions or contracts.
Why did this happen? This is mainly because of a strong market need and adapting services to existing, available, wide-spread technology, like GSM and USSD. Of course, more advanced Mobile Money services can be provided when using Smartphones and Mobile Internet. But the mobile money phenomenon in Africa is one of the most successful proofs of inclusion and universal (or almost) reach.
Next steps into digitalization & infrastructures; the Postal Operator contribution
Surprisingly, people can pay for electricity from their mobile phone (again: no need for smartphones or Internet), pay for their cable TV, or transfer money to a relative in a different country. They can even obtain a micro-loan to pay for their bills. But they cannot get a response to their subsidize request or municipality statements, or accept and approve anything required by their government, or apply to the school of their children or accept a job offer using their mobile phones or email accounts being forced, often, to travel long distances, in person, to collect a paper document and sign a receipt.
All Governments’ Sustainable Development Objectives include extensive digitalization plans and programs. Most of them expect to get better telecommunications infrastructures deployed by Telcos or deploy leading-edge technologies as the main trigger for their digitalization plans. Or plan to digitalise Public Sector Services without including all citizens in these digitalization efforts, which might mean very limited success in the short term.
It will be of very limited leverage, as an example, to digitalize all Courts and Judiciary without properly planning on how citizens will access the new digitalized judicial services; good improvement for Courts limited improvement for citizens.
And they are sometimes budgeting for significant investments in applications, systems, and other digitalization components to come in the near future.
Some of those Governments didn’t realize that they already have the most important and critical asset and infrastructure required for such digitalization and SDGs achievement: their Designated Postal Operator.
Who better than the Post Office to set a universal digital addressing system in a country? They did it for decades in a much more complex environment: streets, roads, villages, cities, countryside, remote rural areas, PO Boxes…
Who better to digitally deliver, with guarantees and witnessing, with admissible proofs of delivery, any documents, message, or letter, literally anywhere in the country? For decades, they have been doing it in a much more difficult and expensive environment (physical paper deliveries).
Who better to have a widespread presence in the country, to help those digitally illiterate, and still offering reverse hybrid mail, by accepting digital deliveries from senders and delivering physically to recipients who might still need it for many reasons, need it?
Who better than them to provide Registered Digital PO Boxes, where subscribers can get all their digital deliveries, even fully witnessed and registered, wherever those digital deliveries come from?
Who better than them to be the guaranteed countrywide witness and Registered Electronic Delivery Service Provider, legally admissible as per United Nations mandate through the Universal Postal Union?
Past, present, and future of Postal Operator’s Contribution to SDGs and inclusion
Postal Operators were always key to every country development. Even before any Sustainable Development Goal existed. Let us not forget… and we will immediately have the answer to many questions about the future of a country.
Decades ago, Postal Services were created from scratch; no experience, no infrastructure, no knowledge, no nothing. And we cannot understand any of our countries today without understanding the Postal Service contribution.
People collecting their parcels and letters, using the Postal Bank, getting postal bank services to their homes even when no other private bank wanted to deal with them. People voting at a Post Office. People getting their salary or pension at the Post Office. People sending Government documents, cashing a subsidize, completing school applications, sending money to their relatives on the other side of the country or the world. People registering their newborn’s at the Post Office. All of that, and much more for everybody in the country.
Are we ready to forget? Are we ready to rely on fully private entities for those services in the future, with no choice and fully depend on private companies’ profitability? Are governments ready to give up on those services, responsibilities, contributions, and universality of the services?
Of course, public-private cooperation is required, as was always the case. Of course, free competition and freedom of choice of Service Provider should still be there. But certain minimum services, with certain minimum guarantees, should be granted by a public service.
Many governments are committed to government services excellence; digitalization through their designated Postal Operators represents a unique opportunity to excel and guarantee universality and inclusion while contributing to strengthening and self-sustaining one of their critical infrastructures: their Designated Postal Operator.
This means, as an example, that a wealthy company can use Postal Operator services or other private services. Still, the poorest person in the country will have granted access too, through the Postal Operator.
This means some people will be able to use their expensive smartphones to get a bank account overdraft, delivered and witnessed by the Postal Operator, while somebody in a remote rural area will receive a similar service through a Registered SMS message, to get notification of his farm to subsidize approval.
This means a Court in the capital city will issue a digital resolution document printed in a remote Post Office branch and handed over to someone in a remote village 1,000 Km away because the recipient does not even have a regular mobile phone.
This means universal digitalization through the most delivery-experienced organization in each country. Inclusion, nobody left behind because of financial profitability or inadequate infrastructures; an adequate technology, partnership, and business model, together with non-financial-only profitability objectives (social inclusion, financial inclusion, universal reach, services affordability…), are making it possible right now.
Lleida.net Digital Postal Services
We at Lleida.net have specialized in Registered Electronic Delivery, which is at the core of our business. Accredited and qualified in many countries and jurisdictions, including the strictest ones, and with 200+ patents granted Worldwide in more than 70 countries, we are proud to be the clear leader in Electronic Registered Delivery Services.
Our patented methodologies are the least intrusive, with no hardware, software or plug-ins requirements at Sender or Receiver end, no CAPEX required at all, pure cost per-transaction business model.
It features many similarities with the regular business operation of any Postal Operator and complies with most regulations in the world for Electronic Evidence (called in some parts of the World Secure Electronic Records), based on United Nations UNICITRAL.
Postal Operators deploying these services are getting their own branded services, digitally signed and time-stamped Proofs of Delivery; no need to register their customers with Lleida.net. There is no need to register all potential Recipients” of Registered Electronic Messages… same as it is not needed to register or onboard recipients of a paper-based Registered Post Mail. There is no need for their customers (usually senders) or their customers (recipients) to install any software or use any specific software or applications or plug-ins. No need to use a specific email system (both Senders and Recipients can use, for example, their existing Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, or any other email system for sending or receiving Registered Email Messages). Any SMS capable device can receive Registered SMS messages (up to thousands of characters per message).
Postal Operators can deliver bulk Registered eStatements (for Municipalities, Government, Banks…) and provide proof of delivery and proof of documents collection/download. Thousands or millions of Registered Messages were delivered in minutes, with full, admissible proof of delivery provided to senders and recipients.
Proofs of delivery securely stored under ISO 27001 Audited facilities, systems, and procedures, for 15 years. Services fully administered by the Postal Operator and technically operated by Lleida.net. Deployed and ready to Go to Market in a matter of few weeks.
Lleida.net experience in the Postal Sector
Lleida.net does have extensive experience across all activity sectors and geographies; banks, insurers, governments, debt collectors, securities trading, law firms, energy companies, telco operators, car rental companies, municipalities, credit/debit card issuers, real-state, retailers and many more sectors are our existing customers.
But we realized we could better increase our reach by partnering with Designated Postal Operators and sector-specific specialists, like eGate Egypt, to better complement each other.
We are both in the Delivery Business and are experienced in Financial Services. Postal Sector specialists can be a catalyst between technology and Postal Services-specific needs. We propose to leverage our experience and technology in the area we know best and lead (Registered Electronic Communications and Delivery) with specialized consulting and advisory for fast deployment of the most convenient, pragmatic, immediate Digital Postal Services.
Our business model can greatly help Postal Operators to be back in the driver seat of their country’s evolution: the digital country revolution. The country digitalization.
Our contribution is clear: our 200+ patents developed over the past 25+ years. Our technologies and platforms. Our global experience. Our will to share knowledge and experience. Our will to share success and take risks together.
All the different segments we currently serve can also be served through Postal Operators. And we will both contribute our experience, learn, and grow together.
Nobody is better positioned to digitalize a country through Registered Electronic Deliveries. Communication is really essential for society, the government, businesses, and people for a country.
Without 100% certainty” of communication… digitalization might fail at some point, the same way as not having any notarization services in a country might make life much more difficult. Just guessing a message or document has been sent, received, not altered, accepted, approved or when those things happened is not an option. Digitalization is key but requires 100% certainty and a Trusted Party who can witness those Electronic Communications and attest exactly what happened.
Lleida.net will leverage the Postal Operator reach to make its services even more pervasive than they are already.
We already did it for some countries in partnership with their Postal Operators: Colombia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa. And recently entered, in collaboration with our Strategic Partner in the Sector, eGate Egypt, and the Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU/UPAP), a Pan-African agreement and initiative, available to all African Postal Operators, to immediately deploy and commercially launch these Digital Postal Services. Over the past 2 months, many Postal Operators and Governments adhered to this agreement between Lleida.net, eGate Egypt and the Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU/UPAP), the African Union specialized Agency for Postal Services (see www.digitalpost.africa).
Postal Operators as a critical infrastructure
Postal Operators are the natural witness everywhere; neutral, independent, experienced and even mentioned in most country regulations as a trusted witness if they were always the “rusted witness in the paper-world… no reason for changing that in the Digital World.
Digital Postal Services are also reducing litigation; when all parties have exactly the same evidence… there is no point in litigating. And life and business become much easier.
Digital postal Services are saving costs and time; where a paper-based Registered Post might take days, or even weeks to deliver (with success or not), Digital Postal Services increase deliverability (to mobile phones or email accounts) to at least 95+%, reduce Delivery Time and Proof of Delivery down to literally minutes (with all associated cost and processes time reduction) and is provided at a fraction of the physical delivery cost.
No society or community can afford to move into the digital world without enough guarantees. Not without, at least, the same or higher levels of certainty they had before the Digital Revolution.
And there is, really, no excuse; wherever there is an email account, a web browser, or an SMS capable device… there is a reliable, registered message and communication possibility.
Wherever there is a customer, citizen, or company in need of certainty of digital communication, a Postal Operator should provide such certainty.
There is no real need to plan, budget, deploy, or operate any complex technologies; over time, some will come, and some will fail and disappear. But using simple, existing, consolidated technology and infrastructures (SMTP email, GSM SMS, web browsers), whatever they are as of today, in a no investment model, is clearly a winning bet.
A winning bet for people who will get universal access to digitalization and digital services, regardless of the technology and resources available to them.
A winning bet for businesses and governments, who will see reduced costs and time to deliver with full certainty and admissibility at a fraction of the current cost and carbon footprint for Registered Physical Deliveries.
A winning bet for Postal Operators who, at no investment at all, will initiate new revenue streams at no risk, and assume the national witness role they used to have, by implementing these technologies across all their services: electronic messages and documents delivery, postal banking services, online and mobile postal banking, logistics, electronic last-mile deliver…
A winning bet for governments, who will count on the key contribution, at no investment, of one of their, from now on, same as always in the past, most important critical Infrastructures and sustainable development goals contributor: their designated postal operator.
Governments trusted their Postal Operators before the First Industrial Revolution and counted on them for the initial development of their countries. When nobody else was there, delivering Postal Operators did the job. When nobody else provided witnessing, universal access to financial services, they greatly contributed to their respective people and countries’ development.
Now… Postal Operators are ready and capable to help to take their countries to the next digital level. And still do it as a public service, as an independent, neutral organization. Focused, as always, on serving their country.