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The Role of the Postal and Delivery Sector in a Digital Age

The Role of the Postal and Delivery Sector in a Digital Age

Advances in Regulatory Economics series

Edited by Michael A. Crew and Timothy J. J. Brennan

This volume, the result of the 21st Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics (Ireland, 2013), describes the continuing problem of the decline of the postal sector in the face of electronic competition and offers strategies for the survival of mail services in a digital age.

Chapter 19: Leveraging the postal infrastructure for the authentication of individuals toward an online government service provision

Caroline Sheedy and Maria Moloney

Subjects: economics and finance, competition policy, public sector economics


The postal system provides a natural platform for transaction enabling, both in a traditional physical sense and, as we shall argue in this chapter, in a digital sense. The existing legal protections offered by the postal system to their customers provide an infrastructure, which if extended into the digital world could provide a secure platform for public eservice transactions. The success of national postal operators (NPOs) providing such a digital public service platform in an effective and secure manner depends on their ability to demonstrate appropriate authentication and verification mechanisms to ensure that customersí correct identity is consistently established. Notions of identity and authentication are fundamental concepts in every marketplace. People and institutions usually need to get to know one another before conducting business. Traditional commerce relies on physical credentials, such as a business license or letter of credit to prove their identity and assure the other party of their validity to engage in a transaction. In online environments, providing such credentials is somewhat more challenging. This arises from the lack of physical presence of participants involved in a transaction. Authentication mechanisms are closely linked to the value of what they protect. For example, many people are comfortable with a username/password authentication for their email.

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