SA Post Office expects big things from ecommerce platform

The SA Post Office (SAPO) expects ecommerce and financial services to become a big portion of its revenue by 2030, with its internal predictions suggesting that only 20% of its revenue will come from its postage services by this date.

This is according to SAPO CEO Mark Barnes, who was speaking to Ron Derby on radio station Power 98.7.

SAPO plans to launch its new ecommerce platform next month, and Barnes hopes they can become a leading ecommerce player through its implementation.

“We’re going to be focusing on the export of South African-made goods on our platform,” said Barnes.

“It’s the Post Office’s vested interest to have a platform that promotes exports, because the way the postal revenue works is the originator of the postal event gets most of the revenue,” Barnes explained.

He said the exporter usually gets about 80% of the terminal dues – and given that SAPO imports much more than it exports through its current ecommerce system, the process isn’t particularly profitable.

Barnes added that he recently visited Istanbul, Turkey to discuss “Ecom Africa”, which he hopes will become one of the world’s leading ecommerce players.

“Ecom Africa is an African ecommerce platform which could rival Alibaba and Amazon if you look at the combined people growth in the entire African continent and some other parts of Europe, which are talking to us as a partner.”

Due to SAPO’s access to all South African addresses, Barnes also believes in the potential for “virtuous data mining capacity within the Post Office”.

Financial services

Barnes further highlighted that while SAPO already has a large financial services portfolio, it sees potential in offering more benefits to South Africans – particularly in the area of loans.

It has reconciled its financial services in relation to the Banks Act and the Companies Act, and once Postbank has finalised the structure of the holding company and acquired its lending licence, these loan services can become widely available.

“All successful Post Offices in the world have a significant proportion of their income coming from financial services,” said Barnes.

30% of SAPO’s revenue currently comes from its financial services institution, Postbank, but this is still less than many global leaders.

According to Barnes, 60% of China Post’s revenue comes from financial services, while a “high proportion” of the UK Royal Postal Service’s revenue is thanks to its financial products.

The proposed new loan services will offer assistance to South Africans with a predictable income stream, without requiring them to list assets as a collateral measure.

Instead, this credit model will require people to use a SAPO transactional account so that the Post Office can monitor their behaviour.

As long as they’re using the loaned money towards their predictable income stream, said Barnes, Postbank can continue to loan money to these people.

Listen to the full radio interview here.

Now read: Post Office releases special “25 years of democracy” stamp

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SA Post Office expects big things from ecommerce platform