03 September 2003

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Email makes its mark felt on postal service

By Matthew Vella
Privatisation has seen 160 Maltapost employees being passed through to the revolving door back to the civil service. Email has definitely had its mark felt on the international postal service.
Although figures were not available on the changes in the volume of mail for Maltapost in the last two years, The Malta Financial and Business Times spoke to business development manager Michael Stewart on the effects of email on Maltapost.
"E-business has affected postal administrations all around the world," Stewart says, "this is one of the reasons why Maltapost is looking for alternative revenue sources and services."
Stewart says Maltapost is monitoring mail volumes to look for reasons for increasing and decreasing volumes of mail throughout the year. According to Stewart, Maltapost’s volume in recent months has been unchanged, "neither increasing, nor decreasing."
"The majority of mail is from businesses. This is something like 80 per cent of all mail. Invoices and business statements are usually always sent by surface mail. People prefer to receive this sort of communication on paper."
Which is why it has been domestic mail to suffer the impact of email. Email usage worldwide has supplanted most regional postal services. In January 2001, 550 million emails were sent and received in British homes according to internet measurement company NetValue. In the same month, 258 million letters were handled by the Royal Mail in the same period. In the United States, the US postal service delivers more than 600 million pieces of mail per day. A recent study claimed that the number of pieces of electronic mail sent in 1999 outnumbered the postal mail by as much as 1,000 to 1.
This is a real milestone for email, surpassing centuries of postal delivery in just over a decade since the start of its usage on a mass scale. This notwithstanding, a considerable amount of emails are used for internal communication in offices, the exchange of jokes and other material which would not normally happen when using surface mail.
In Malta, postal services benefited considerably from continuous exchange between Malta and the hundreds of thousands of Maltese ex-pats in Australia, which number more than the population in Malta, and other countries such as Britain, Canada, America and parts of the Mediterranean.
Whereas surface mail and telephone calls were the primary means of communication bridging ex-pats to the motherland, email today is the simplest and quickest form of exchange, at no extra cost. The increase in sales of digital cameras has allowed people to share family photos instantly across large distances.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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