Postal services across the globe have to adapt, change and innovate their service offering to survive, and this is primarily due to the impact of digital transformation. This sector has been especially hard hit by the increased usage of mobile e-commerce, which offers more reliability, efficiency and convenience. For postal services to remain relevant and afloat, they need to invest in FinTech and digital technology, like mobile wallet solutions, to transform their service offerings and answer to the changing needs of consumers.
The challenges and opportunities for postal services
Globally, postal services have been steadily declining. Ageing infrastructure, declining mail volumes and changing consumer preferences for mobile and/or digital offerings have been at the root of this. Many customers have turned away from postal services and towards other platforms which offer more services within the mobile commerce space, simply because they are more reliable, convenient and efficient. This has caused many postal organizations to have an identity crisis in response to trying to diversify and stay relevant to the changing needs of consumers. The problem with this is that postal services have actually overlooked some of their greatest strengths and many emerging opportunities within their communities, specifically where mobile commerce and financial services are concerned.
COVID-19 has also impacted the use of postal services, specifically in relation to the handling of money and the spread of the virus. In many countries across the globe, especially in developing countries, postal services have been used as pay stations for grants, pensions, welfare payments etc. This often results in large sums off cash being distributed and passing through several different hands and pay points, which increases the risk of spreading the virus. Many postal services have now turned to mobile wallets and cashless payment systems and, according to the GSMA, the use of these solutions could limit the spread of the COVID-19.
The need for these types of mobile financial service offerings and mobile commerce platforms provides an opportunity for postal services to diversify and stay competitive in the market. Postal services are at an advantage and are in the perfect position to innovate and expand as they have the following available to them:
- A relationship of trust with clients – This relationship has been built over centuries of service. Other brands spend millions of dollars on marketing, staff and systems and still don’t come close.
- A distribution network – Logistics, especially in developing communities, are complicated to establish – postal organizations already have these networks.
- Physical presence – Though some of the infrastructure may be aging, a physical presence in remote areas as well as established areas, builds a connection between the two. With these three assets well established, postal organizations are the ideal candidate for Digital Mobile Banking.
With these three assets, well established postal services are the ideal candidate for Digital Mobile Banking. This will create new and relevant revenue streams that will speak to customers’ needs in the digital age, giving postal services a competitive edge.
Why mobile commerce?
Digital transformation, in recent years, has led to an exponential growth in the use of mobile phones and mobile commerce. According to research conducted, in just two years, mobile transactions have increased from 8% to over 18%. Research has also estimated that in 2020, for the first time, more than 1 billion people worldwide will use a mobile payment app to pay in-store at least every six months. In 2023, it is estimated that there will be 1.31 billion proximity mobile payment transaction users worldwide, up from 950 million users in 2019.
The reality is that mobile commerce has become a way of life and also offers financial inclusion for many people across the globe. It is estimated that there are 1.7 billion unbanked customers worldwide, imagine the potential of connecting with those customers through their mobile phones. By tapping into this market, postal services can open up room for extensive expansion and growth. For this to become a new reality, postal services need to develop an inclusive commerce platform that is relevant to customers needs and utilise electronic/mobile wallet technology.
Why should postal services utilise electronic/mobile wallet technology?
Many postal organisations, globally, have already started to capitalise on this financial service opportunity with 3 out of 4 postal operators offering some form of basic financial services like money transfer and remittance. The opportunity to expand on this need is evident and electronic/ mobile wallet solutions pave the way for this.
Adapt IT‘s Electronic Mobile Wallet solution allows postal services to optimise the process of accepting cash for goods sent and logistics services. These solutions use payment tools, such as electronic money, for direct payments from your customers to merchants. All that couriers and branch employees need to do during this process is to top-up customers’ electronic wallets. There are several other services related to this offering which include:
- Cashless payment services – customers can pay for goods and the delivery of services using their prepaid wallet and electronic money with their mobile phones.
- Tracking of sent and received parcels – customers are able to easily track their shipments online.
- Rewards customers with a loyalty program – reward customers for in-app activity and shopping, by allowing them to collect and redeem points using their loyalty card and mobile phone.
- Instant money transfers – customers can use their mobile phone to transfer money to friends and family instantly.
- In-app payments for good and services – customers will be able to pay their hydro, water and gas bills using the electronic wallet app straight from their mobile.
Postal services are further able to expand on these services by offering multi-currency travel money, prepaid cards, gift cards, virtual cards, mobile top-ups and more. There are also a number of benefits for both the postal service and customers that relate to these offerings. These include:
Benefits for postal services:
- Improved Customer Retention – expands mobile solutions based on customer needs, separating providers from their competitors.
- Effective Marketing and Sales – with Location-Based Services, providers can offer niche solutions to specific communities.
- Personalized Service and Greater Value – direct interaction with customers on an individual level and DIY services.
- Broaden offerings – through loyalty programs, vouchers, promotions and other services.
Benefits for customers:
- Financial Inclusion – expanding into untapped and unbanked marketplaces offering financial services to mobile customers.
- Banking for Mobile Customers – transfer money, pay merchants, buy airtime, use multi-currency options and an array of other services straight from your mobile phone
- Security and Convenience – secure end to end transactions wherever you go, giving you speed and accessibility
Postal services have a unique opportunity to delve into the world of mobile commerce. With their expansive networks, strong customer relationships and experience, they are in the perfect position to expand on financial services and need to do so to remain relevant in the digital age. It is essential for postal services to implement an inclusive commerce platform that offers customers what they need. Adapt IT has developed the Electronic/Mobile Wallet, which is a turnkey solution to answer to these specific FinTech needs. Postal services have the potential to become more relevant, create more revenue streams, enhance profitability and become a real asset to customers by providing innovative financial services.