Postal networks in many developing economies are desperately looking for sources of funding a much-needed development catch-up in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. Governments often either lack the necessary means or the willingness to invest in the postal and delivery companies of their country. More advanced postal enterprises, who are funding international postal development through the UPU’s Quality of Service Fund, are also more and more limited and financially constrained for funding postal development. They have become increasingly reluctant to pay for the development of other networks after decades of disappointments and lack of concrete results in many partner countries. The traditional postal infrastructure is not far from being in shambles in too many least developed countries. The fourth industrial revolution will only widen the postal and delivery infrastructure gaps between countries should the situation continue in this way.

Yet the greatest untapped potential is exactly there, in the so many disconnected and dysfunctional postal and delivery areas of the world. Today less than a billion people benefit from some relatively decent postal and delivery service. Traditional posts have rather been on a path to universalizing a lack of relevance of their delivery services, with mounting complaints from recipients of goods ordered online. So, who is going to be willing to invest in a radical transformation of the postal and delivery infrastructure in order to fund the highly transversal and collaborative projects I was highlighting in my previous article? Who are and where are the funders of the next generation of postal and logistics networks? Who would be ready to substitute or complement the few traditional funders of postal development?

A lot of answers to these questions are related to trust: the trust that too many postal entities cannot benefit from potential external funders today, or the too many uncertainties in funding sometimes rotten postal institutions and systems. How could we best overcome this challenge and give a fair chance to the postal and delivery companies really willing to be part of the fourth industrial revolution? Let us build a trusted and collaborative funding mechanism and connect them to it. But what’s this trusted and collaborative funding mechanism?

For a given postal or delivery company, it is about starting to be co-funded with one, two or more partners or even rival networks, instead of being the single beneficiary of the investment. The outside partners, being co-funded for systemic collaborative development, could also be any relevant small or big enterprise, start-up or platform, including more or less direct competitors that could potentially contribute and benefit from a joint common investment in global postal and logistics supply chains. The trusted and collaborative funding mechanism would also introduce an innovative dynamic incentive-based mechanism whereby a player could be removed from the “funded chain”, and substituted by another, if critical milestones are not explicitly achieved across the different stages of funding. This is simply called a smart investment contract for development. It would be one for a comprehensive and collaborative postal and delivery infrastructure development worldwide. Good news! It could be easily operated thanks to the recent progresses in blockchain technologies.

Let me deal with more details about this revolutionary postal and delivery infrastructure development mechanism in my next article!