Is the End of Sending Letters On The Horizon?

A Canadian professor has gone on record saying that traditional letter mail will be extinct within the next 10 years. The rate of usage for electronic communications is too high and growing too fast for letters to continue to remain useful, he argues.

The end is in sight for a form of communication that dates back to the system of horses and riders that crossed the Persian Empire in a week and evolved into the mighty Crown corporation that spans this nation.

Half of Canada’s mail volume is expected to disappear by the end of this decade.

Transactional mail and ad mail will continue to decline at 5% per year indefi- nitely until physical mail (but not parcels) disappears between 2020 and 2025.

The problem may be even more acute in the United States, especially with the United States Postal Service (USPS) bleeding red ink. The USPS lost $1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2015, which the agency touted as a moral victory because it lost $1.9 billion in the second quarter of last year. Such losses will not be allowed to continue ad infinitum and eventually, the USPS will either be forced to cut back on service or raise the price of handling the mail.

Regardless of which of either scenario is chosen, the end of regular mail may be on the horizon. And the collection industry is going to have to be ready for when that ultimately comes to pass.

Of course, much of this hand-wringing can be eliminated with some simple changes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Certainly the industry was done no favors with the recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but opening the door to electronic communication has to be the focal point of any industry strategy going forward. The world is moving away from traditional mail. As Internet access expands worldwide, the use of email will only increase.

The industry is anxious to move in this direction. It is ready to move in this direction. It just needs the starting gate to be unlocked. One does wonder whether Congress, which has all but tied the hands of the USPS so that the services it is forced to offer ensures that it continues losing money, doesn’t want the industry to abandon sending letters to keep some revenue flowing through the postal service.

Maybe the battle isn’t winnable at all.

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