About two months ago, the Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta) alongside mobile carrier Safaricom decided to collaborate on a product named M-Post that targeted Safaricom subscribers who wanted to use postal services at a cheap.
M-Post, which went live immediately after launch in late November 2019, was publicized widely and for a good reason. Posta Kenya, admittedly, has been losing ground thanks to the growth of internet-based services: people are sending SMSes and WhatsApp messages instead of mails. Millions make phone calls and save for a couple of services that still rely on good ol’ letters, the space is not as vibrant as it used to be a decade or two ago.
Safaricom, which bases its growth on innovative products has the numbers and sought the help of Posta to give more people virtual P.O. Box numbers. The onboarding process is quite straightforward, and costs KES 300 annually, which is way lower than KES 2000 charged for physical mailboxes.
As of this writing, it has been reported that the arrangement has attracted 150,000 active users, which is not a bad number considering that a lot of people have no use for the service.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for getting a virtual mailbox is e-commerce that has grown quite drastically. For instance, Kenyans were reported to have spent trillions buying and selling stuff online between July and September 2019. These people rely on other forms of delivery, but this new virtual box makes things easier because a package can be brought to your doorstep if you are willing to pay extra.
Posta has also been innovating around its product portfolio with erratic levels of success. It has, for instance, delivery services – and so does Safaricom’s in-house e-commerce platform Masoko. Both corporations are also getting a cut from global e-commerce services such as Ali Express: Safaricom’s M-PESA can be used to process payments, and ordered products are delivered to Posta Kenya. Now, with the virtual mail address, the products can be shipped to your house.
It is likely that M-Post will be a success, and I hope it does because Posta Kenya desperately needs to reap some benefits after years of testing innovative products, many of which have failed spectacularly.