How Swiss Post wants to turn letters into e-mails


Bebefore the postman arrives, the doorbell rings in the digital mailbox: in future, customers of Deutsche Post will be able to have the contents of many letters sent to them in advance by email. According to information from the FAZ, the new service will be launched this Wednesday.

In addition, the Post is expanding an offer that it launched last summer together with the e-mail providers GMX and Swiss Post notifies registered customers by email that a letter is on the way. While previously only a photo of the envelope with the address label could be seen, there is now a PDF file with the digital copy of the content.

“Our customers can now receive important messages in two ways: as a legally secure letter and as a practically archivable e-mail,” says letter director Tobias Meyer, describing the idea. The service is free. Initially around 35 million users of GMX and will be able to participate. This means that the service is available to around half of all German Internet users right from the start. To do this, you must register in your e-mail inbox and expressly consent to the processing of your data. The registration only becomes valid when the customer confirms it with a transaction number that is sent to them by post.

Bundle all relevant information digitally

Around 1.2 million private users have now registered for the letter announcement. “That surprised us very positively,” said Jan Oetjen, managing director of GMX and, which belong to the Internet group United Internet. With the digital copy, customers would now for the first time have the opportunity to digitally bundle all relevant information from companies and authorities and access it anytime and anywhere via their smartphone. “In three years we are expecting a double-digit million number of users,” Oetjen predicted in an interview with the FAZ

Swiss Post does not have to open the letters or scan the content for the digital copies. Companies and authorities that take part in the offer deliver PDF files of their mailings to printing centers. The physical letters are then prepared there, while Swiss Post can use the digital copies for the new service. At the start, fifty large mail-order companies such as Vodafone and Otto are included, as well as more than ten thousand small and medium-sized companies.

Swiss Post gives you a bonus of one cent for every PDF file you send in. “This way we compensate the senders for the technical effort involved in connecting to our interfaces,” said Klaus Ehrnsperger, Head of Product Management for Letter Communication and E-Post, the FAZ. Swiss Post processes an average of around 55 million letters every day. The group did not want to say how many would be eligible for the new service.

Post promises end-to-end transport encryption

Data protection is a sensitive issue relating to letters and sensitive content such as insurance documents or invoices. Swiss Post and its partner company assure that no one can read along. The technical implementation takes place via specially secured interfaces and “highly secure IT infrastructures”. All dispatch routes between the post office and the e-mail inboxes would be protected with end-to-end transport encryption.

Data collection and data processing should only take place in German data centers. The entire chain meets the requirements of the European General Data Protection Regulation. The secrecy of letters is also guaranteed for the digital copy. “We discussed the project intensively with the Federal Network Agency and the Federal Data Protection Officer. There are currently no concerns on either side, ”said Ehrnsperger.

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With the new service, Swiss Post is combining two approaches. “With the digital copy, we are making the paper letter more attractive. That will help to slow down digital substitution and the decline in volume, ”said Ehrnsperger. The volume of letters in Germany is more stable than in many other countries. Nevertheless, the Post has to accept a decline of 2 to 4 percent every year. Swiss Post “has to actively shape this transformation process itself if we want to remain in the communications market in the long term,” said Ehrnsperger. The group has been trying to digitize its mailing for more than ten years. Several hundred million euros were invested in the E-Post letter, a type of specially protected and legally binding e-mail.

Experience has shown that the switch to purely digital channels was too big a leap, said the manager. Many processes in administration and in the company still ran on paper. “That’s why we want to make the transition easier for customers by offering a bridging solution.” E-Post, like De-Mail, which was promoted by the state together with Deutsche Telekom, had a major disadvantage: It was a separate, self-contained one System incompatible with regular email. That is why Swiss Post is now moving in a different strategic direction, with the technical E-Post platform still being used to a large extent.

The basic idea, of course, has not changed: “The goal remains legally binding digital communication in accordance with European requirements and the De-Mail law,” said Ehrnsperger. If this succeeds, senders and customers can save themselves a lot of paper letters in the future and be satisfied with electronic business mail.

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Swiss Post turn letters emails


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