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Is email a dinosaur?

Could we see email become a thing of the past and go the same way as “snail mail”?

Australia Post certainly think so and have predicted the decline of email, suggesting the rise of social media, security concerns and changing behaviours. Chief executive, Ahmed Fahour said 98% of emails were junk mail, which was why Australia Post was launching its digital mailbox in coming months.

Speaking at an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney, Mr Fahour said, “We believe email is on the way down. Email will have its purposes but I believe it is passe.”

Mr Fahour said that his own children don’t use email at all, and communicate via social media. He also added that current email is not secure and it’s very easy for your identity to be stolen, and your accounts to be hacked into.

Australia Post is rolling out digital mailboxes for secure mail, and bill-paying and will be available to every adult, as it attempts to cut the costs of delivering physical mail to customers. Losses in the 2012 financial year in the regulated mail business rose to $148 million, mainly due to high fixed costs and lower volumes.

Users will be able to receive electronic communications from several sources including governments, utilities and other businesses, into their digital mailbox. The key benefit for users is that senders of digital mail will be secure, giving users peace of mind that the mail they receive is actually from who it says it’s from.

Of course Australia Post is not alone in its bid to seek to monetise the delivery of digital mail. Share registry Computershare (ASX: CPU) is also rolling out its version of digital mail – which should make it much easier for investors in shares and trustees of self-managed super funds to manage their investment mail. Junk mail delivery company Salmat Limited (ASX: SLM) was originally a partner with Computershare, but dropped out after selling its mail outsourcing business to Fuji Xerox.

Foolish takeaway

With Australia Post to roll out digital mailboxes to users in the next couple of months, it remains to be seen whether Computershare’s digital post will compete with Australia Post directly, or simply become a niche player. Either way, the death of email may be some way off.

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More reading

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Computershare.

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