Businesses across all segments of the global economy are continually innovating their products and services to remain relevant in a world where clients are increasingly digital, hyperconnected, information-rich, and able to source globally.Successful businesses have adopted a customer-centric model of innovation to ensure that they remain the top choice in economies where customer loyalty is low, and adoption is driven by the next-best, easiest, and most integrated services provider.
The focus of the day is to provide a value-added, integrated, interoperable and seamlessly digital customer journey.
As some of the oldest institutions in their respective countries, Posts have been continually reinventing their products and services to remain customer-centric and demand-responsive – this is especially important when postal logistics services are losing market share.
Unlike their commercial counterparts, Posts bear the burden of universal service obligations requiring them to offer affordable and inclusive postal logistics services to every citizen, regardless of their income or location. So it is unsurprising that Posts are among the oldest institutions with an established physical delivery network – one that relies on an extensive, cross-country logistical and financial services network – with last-mile reach to citizens’ doorsteps.
Posts have been providing financial services since the 1800s, but rapid changes and innovations in the financial services landscape have impacted all players, including Posts. New entrants are disrupting the digital financial services (DFS) space, compelling traditional players such as Posts to play catch-up to meet customer needs.
These disruptions and digital innovations have left most Posts at a crossroads: innovate and transform their services, or risk being edged out by the competition.
Successful Posts have adopted four key strategies: they have re-invented the customer journey; leveraged the power of big data to provide relevant services; redefined their operating model to be market-relevant; and built digital-driven postal operations.
With a mandate of providing guidance and advice to its postal and policymaker stakeholders, the UPU has concluded a study on the potential and pathways for innovations in postal DFS. We have assessed the internal and external drivers of DFS innovations in Posts, identified mechanisms through which Posts can innovate to remain relevant, and laid out a blueprint to help spur innovations in postal DFS.
Engaging with sector experts and Posts, we find that the key drivers that could help Posts design their future operating models include: establishing a DFS ecosystem beyond postal services; integrating physical and digital processes; re-orienting transaction flows to support digitization; and reimagining the core functions of the Post to be customer-demand-centric.
We recommend that Posts that are either building, or scaling up, their DFS prepare a sustainable, compelling business plan for DFS; strengthen their technology, internal processes, and human capital; cater to the unique needs of customers; focus on the delivery of a first-class, secure, seamless experience; and provide non-financial value-added services, such as financial and digital literacy.
To help Posts achieve their DFS ambitions, we recommend that policymakers engage with and enhance the role of Posts in the formulation and implementation of national development policies; foster a robust enabling environment for DFS; promote a competitive environment with strengthened consumer protection laws; and support Post–fintech partnerships through accelerator programmes.
We hope that this study will bring benefit for Posts at any stage of their DFS journey – whether they are just embarking on this journey, or increasing the outreach and uptake of existing services.
You can access the study at www.upu.int/en/Universal-Postal-Union/Activities/Financial-Services/Research
For further information and advice on how the UPU can assist you in your DFS journey, please write to financialinclusion[at]upu.int.
Siva Somasundram is the UPU’s Director of Policy, Regulation and Markets