The Motley Fool

The fight for your letterbox

The way you receive your mail is about to change drastically. And there’s a war going on between two heavyweights that you may have only briefly heard about.

The fight is over digital mail – which differs from normal email, by verifying the identity of both recipients and senders. The premise is that you can receive secure digital mail from authorised entities like banks, utilities companies, Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS), government and share registries, knowing that the system is safer than normal email, and you can pay bills from within the system.

In one corner, we have Australia Post, the government’s mail master with its digital mailbox. On the other side we have Computershare Limited (ASX: CPU), Fuji Xerox (who bought the mail outsourcing business (BPO) from Salmat Limited (ASX: SLM)), and US company Zumbox, with their version, digital post.

Computershare already distributes the majority of company correspondence to shareholders in Australia, while Salmat’s BPO division was Australia’s largest print and mail operation, and New Zealand announced last year that it was adopting Zumbox to deliver digital mail.

Related: Australia Post – not just mail delivery

Both sites basically offer the same secure delivery of your bills and mail, but the key to who gains the most users will likely be the one with the most mailers. Users will be attracted by convenience – how much of their mail can they receive from one service, usability – Computershare’s digital post is likely to offer mobile apps – and functionality of each service. The ability to archive and store bills, financial statements, mail, copies of your birth certificate, passport or other important documents would come in very handy.

For Australia Post, losing this war could have a big impact on its business and result in a big drop in revenues, so you can expect the government department to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure it comes out on top. Given Toll Holdings (ASX: TOL) is trying to muscle in on parcel delivery as well, Australia Post is facing attacks on at least two of its core businesses.

The Foolish bottom line

It’s early days yet and there’s a possibility that neither initiative will succeed, but it’s likely that households will be pushed onto digital mail at some stage in the future.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is 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. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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