Mailround goes electronic as Finland tries scanning its post

Next Story

Blizzard-ahoy on Amazon Gold Box deals

Would you like to read the regular postal mail that comes through your letterbox on a PC, e-reader or mobile over breakfast? Then move to Finland. Within two weeks, the state-owned national mail enterprise, Itella, will begin opening, scanning and distributing letters electronically to some Finnish households and companies. Yes, you read that right. Postal workers will be opening your mail.

Customers will be notified by e-mail when they receive new letters. They can then read them by logging in to a website called Netposti. It has up until now only been used for a limited amount of company correspondence.

In its initial stage, the postal service experiment will involve hundreds of people and tens of companies in Porvoo’s Anttila village, close to the Finnish capital. However, it’s possible that the experiment will be extended to cover many more areas. It has already attracted considerable interest from around the country.

It’s the drive towards an open market in postal services which is is driving this radical move. Tommi Tikka, Development Director at Itella, says that digital mail delivery is important for the Finnish postal service in order for it to stay competitive. “We need to be innovative because competitors will enter our market next year. And electronic delivery is also something that many Finns want,” Tikka explains.

Robert Stjernberg lives in the experiment village and owns a company that sells solar panels. He’ll soon get all his personal and business letters through the internet. “I am using my computer a lot for receiving information so it makes sense that I can read my letters on it too. It will be so much easier and I am really excited about it,” Stjernberg says.

The letters will arrive to households electronically before nine o’clock in the morning. The physical letters are still forwarded to the receiver’s address as usual, and arrive at their house in the normal manner. In the future, the customer might also be able to choose not to receive the physical letter at all and it would be destroyed by the postal service. However, this solution hasn’t been decided upon yet.

Now, I know what you are wondering, and indeed there are some concerns relating to the secrecy of correspondence when other people’s letters will be opened, but Tikka says that this is not an issue: “The staff doing the scanning are bound to secrecy. They do not read the contents of the letters.”

The digital distribution will also only be provided to people who choose to participate, which makes the scanning lawful, the Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman says.

Digital delivery of letters is provided in Switzerland and the United States too, but customers in those countries have to pay for it – at least €14 per month.

(photo: Itella)

  • John

    Wow. I would so like to get my mail delivered like this. Sure it’s not an April Fools’ joke though? It sounds a bit unexpected that the postal service would open and scan ones letters…

  • Bengan L.

    the Finnish idea to digitize the receiving of letters is great but it’s not very ecological to continue sending paper letters. why not also introduce digital sending? that would be cool indeed.

  • Tore Hansen

    The project shows huge naivety when it comes to peoples’ ability to keep quiet. Also, this manual work – to open and scan letters – will probably be very boring and done by young people with low wages.

  • strix82

    Tore, I agree. Many states are already reading peoples’ e-mail. Next up: letters?

  • Idiots

    Have the Finns not heard of e-mail? What’s the point of sending a physical letter if the purpose is to receive it digitally?

  • Lene

    To me these people told that small and big parcels also would come digitally to everyone´s computer and that no parcel handling is any more needed. Tell me how the vacuum cleaner could pop up from my computer? I cannot understand it but Itella says that by their means also this kind of physical miracle would be possible.

  • Niklas Fagerstrom

    Lene, the parcel handling will be more automated in the area taking part in the experiment. The receiver will get a text message notifying him/her that a parcel has arrived. It can then be collected from a machine in the nearest office, using a password provided in the text message.

  • eric_g

    I don’t agree with the alias “idiots”. this experiment is a good idea from the finnish postal service and it’s important to use new technology. there isn’t another good option in the long run, traditional mail is going to die.

  • Lene

    How big will that machine be? Let´s say me ordering a washing machine from the mail order company. How will they put a this big thing into an automate?

  • louise

    How big will that machine be? Let´s say me ordering a washing machine from the mail order company. How will they put a this big thing into an automate?

  • Niklas Fagerstrom

    Lene/louise, big parcels will be excluded. You can get further information by contacting Itella.

  • Anna Gundersen

    John, this is NOT an April fools joke. Have also seen a shorter newspaper article about it today (on the 2nd).
    The idea of free digital letter delivery is marvelous, but I wouldn’t go for it myself because of privacy concerns.

  • Jari

    Finns can be a bit crazy. We agree with what officials say and never criticize. I don’t want people opening my love letters or overdue bills. Luckily I moved to Sweden a couple of years ago. Hurray for e-mail!

  • Charlie Thompson

    In a way this is a scary development, but I love it. Please, Royal Mail, introduce digital letter delivery in England too.

  • Thomas Roberts

    Great first article, Niklas. I find the comment from the Finnish postal service alarming. The fact that people are sworn to secrecy doesn’t mean that they won’t tell anyone what they see. Intelligence services could probably also quite easily infiltrate the postal operations.

  • ed hats

    Our company is a excellent quality of famous brand hats .We has many kinds of brand
    hats.Our hats is competive price and top quality.Our hats is your best choose.

    baseball hats

    slimming capsule

  • http://www.banctecbpo.com/2011/07/finland-scans-and-emails-paper-mail/ Finland Scans and Emails Paper Mail — BancTec

    […] read an article over the weekend of a very interesting new development in electronic document management that is […]

blog comments powered by Disqus