Nuts & Bolts - Direct Mail: USPS Considering Peer-to-Peer
Americans love to anthropomorphize the United States Postal Service, ascribing such attributes to it as being a fuddy-duddy in the age of digital commerce. But the authors of those riffs about "snail mail" clearly haven't read the latest from the USPS Office of Inspector General: "Peer-to-Peer Commerce and the Role of the Postal Service."
OIG spokeswoman Agapi Doulaveris says her office provides whitepapers such as this one, released on Jan. 14, to the USPS for consideration (1.usa.gov/WEb4Pv, opens as a PDF). The USPS is deciding whether to implement it.
Here are some points the USPS was reviewing as of March 4, says spokesman Dave Partenheimer:
• "One of the key challenges for both buyers and sellers in peer-to-peer markets is maintaining the option of keeping anonymity while demonstrating their authenticity in transactions and having confidence that the other party is legitimate. A Postal Service digital identity and authentication service would help ameliorate these fears and increase trust in overall market transactions. Additionally, a Postal Service trustmark for e-businesses would indicate that the identity of market participants has been vetted or authenticated. This would raise the reputation capital of sellers and, in turn, increase the confidence of buyers."
• The OIG proposes two new options, one of which is a riff on the traditional USPS Collect on Delivery (COD) option—Digital COD. The Postal Service could transmit e-payments. The other option is "Digital Escrow," which would allow buyers to put payments in escrow until satisfactory receipt of the purchase. "These new services could be used in combination with current services, such as insurance and digital currency payment options."