The Sept 29, 2014 issue of Linn’s Stamp News carried a piece on page 10: “Swiss Mobile Franking Now Permanent”. Briefly, a person with a smart phone can send a text message to Swiss Post and in return, they get a code that they can write on the top of a letter and deposit it in the mail stream. The code is good for up to 10 days and pays first class postage on normal weight letters. Swiss Post states that 100,000 letters were mailed with these codes during last year’s trial period. Swiss Post is now making this permanent.

How long will it be until the USPS adopts this idea, or something similar? My guess is, not long.

Here is the scenario. You have a letter to mail. You don’t have a stamp and you don’t feel like waiting in line at the post office (or driving to the post office) just to buy some stamps. Using your smart phone, you send a text message to the USPS and get a code in return. You write the code in the top right corner of the letter and deposit it in a mailbox. The USPS has used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software for years to read addresses. The OCR software will read the code, verify it’s valid, and process the letter normally.

Will this replace postage stamps? No. For someone who needs to mail a letter or two – yes, they will send a text message and get a code instead of going to the post office to purchases stamps. It’s very convenient for them. This will never be used by large commercial mailers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the USPS charges a small premium for using this service – say a nickel or dime. Why? They’ll need to adjust the processing machines to detect and validate these codes. A few letters will be unreadable due to poor handwriting and need some extra processing. Customers using this service will be willing to pay a small premium to avoid the extra effort of having to go to the post office to buy stamps.

I don’t have a crystal ball. But don’t be surprised if the USPS soon implements mobile franking like Swiss Post.