Digital mailboxes won't take off anytime soon, because people are still holding onto paper billing, according to HP Exstream portfolio innovation manager Avi Greenfield.
HP Exstream is a software platform that is used by some of Australia's biggest direct mailing companies, including Salmat, to manage and print paper bills. Exstream is also used for electronic billing services.
Greenfield noted that Australia has been proactive in bringing out digital mailbox technology to encourage people to adopt electronic bills. But he has doubts that digital mailboxes, like the one Australia Post has introduced, will experience a mass take-up.
"If you look at Canada, it has had a digital mailbox service, sponsored by Canada Post, for almost 10 years now, and the adoption rate is still at around 15 percent," Greenfield said at the HP World Tour event in Beijing, China. "I was an analyst 10 years ago, and electronic bill presentment and payments was one of the areas I covered. If you had told me back then that we would still be around 15 percent adoption rate today, I would have thought you were crazy; it should be much higher."
Electronic bill adoption is still fairly low in many countries around the world, including Australia, according to Greenfield, despite a number of initiatives to wean people off paper. Companies have tried preaching the environmental benefits of e-bills, and have started charging a premium for printed bills, but to no avail, he said.
"Ultimately, you need a better experience online before you get people to really move away from paper bills," Greenfield said. "Paper is like a security blanket for people; there are a lot of people that still use it as a reminder to pay their bills and have a record of what they are doing.
"Smartphones, and even tablets, are pretty poor PDF readers. Until that online experience is more than just reading a PDF version of a printed page, we won't see electronic bills take off."
That means it will be a while before digital mailbox replaces physical mailboxes, he said.
Spandas Lui attended HP World Tour as a guest of HP.