Mail services have a long, distinguished history in South Africa, dating back over 500 years. The South African Post Office (SAPO) currently represents
this heritage as the national postal service of South Africa, a state-owned enterprise. SAPO is an imperative part of the South African economy with a 18,000 strong workforce connecting remote parts of the country with vital central Government services.
Numerous spin-off industries support and benefit from SAPO, causing it to remain a vital component of South African life.
SAPO, which has the largest retail network in South Africa, has been an Escher customer since 2007. By choosing to deploy Escher’s RiposteEssential™ across its entire network—1,600 post offices with
5,200 workstations—SAPO resolved operational inefficiencies and improved cost controls arising from multiple disparate mail solutions. As a result, SAPO consolidated all transactions into a single solution that integrated with its core systems.
While SAPO’s main revenue streams continue to be generated from its mails and parcel businesses, its product diversification continues apace helping to keep SAPO relevant in today’s increasingly digitized society. SAPO enables its customers to perform mail and parcel services, multiple financial transactions, Retail Sales, Bill Payments, and Government Services, among others. In addition, SAPO is accelerating a series of digital transformation strategies to complement its core business.
Like many posts, SAPO was facing challenges from eSubstitution, increasing costs, and intense competition from other parts of the economy, including online retailers. To keep pace with the development and proliferation of the internet, and especially through smartphone usage, it needed to adapt and change to stay relevant to its customers
In Section 19(4) of the ECT Act 25 of 2002, e-Registered Mail has the same legal status as paper-based Registered Mail. With e-Registered Mail, business or individual users can reach anyone with a valid email address. The Post Office knew this digital solution would be of particular value to various organizations and individuals who work with sensitive and important documents.
In 2013, SAPO turned its focus to the electronic confidential exchange of documentation and communication. It wanted proof of delivery and secure integration with its Trust Centre, accredited by the South African Accreditation Authority to provide Electronic Signatures that provide evidentiary weight when applied to communications and transactions. The objective was to establish SAPO as the trusted entity for the exchange and sending of Digital Mail.
After evaluating a range of solutions, SAPO selected Escher as the strategic enabler for this Digital Post Solution due to its strength in the postal sector and deep knowledge of digital mail technologies. Escher’s expertise in this sector enables SAPO to leverage the knowledge from other postal organizations around the world.
SAPO officially launched Escher’s Digital Post Solution for bulk mail users, businesses and individuals in 2016. Users are given a free digital postbox for life, which they can access anytime, from anywhere inclusive of smartphone, tablets and desktops. This hybrid mail solution digitizes and encrypts paper-based mail for secure electronic delivery. Users can also send and receive eRegistered Mail, which has proof of delivery to allow the sender to confirm receipt. Once a user receives a document through eRegistered Mail, they have an option to electronically sign, pay invoices, or save the document in the encrypted vault. With a full audit trail, the mail complies with the requirements of the South African legal system.
The service supports different user requirements: once-off mail users, small and medium needs, or bulk mail senders. “In fact, anyone who needs to send registered mail can use this system as long as they have access to the web and have the email address of the intended recipient,” said Mr Nkosinati Tolom, Group Executive Commercial, SAPO. Businesses can communicate to their customers through the Digital Post newsfeeds or direct contact.
Users of the service are authenticated through a username, password, and digital certificate through a “digital postbox.” The personal digital certificate integration is implemented through the SAPO Trust Centre. Users are managed through the administrative portal, along with the pricing manager and access to analytical reports and dashboards. There are a variety of payment options for individual registered users or registered user segments.
At the launch, Mr Mark Barnes, the CEO of the SAPO said: “South Africans can now use electronic registered mail with all the legal validity of normal and standard physical registered mail‚ thanks to Digital Post Solution launched by the SA Post Office.” By May 2017, 132 companies were using SAPO’s Digital Post Solution to send eRegistered Mail and Confidential Mail — with more ready to sign up.
Marketing Action Plans including brochures, print adverts, television, digital billboards, website, Post Office sales book and Twitter are helping develop the rapidly growing 600- strong customer base. Since the launch of the Digital Post Solution, the overall number of digital postal users has risen, with higher projected volumes once the Marketing Action Plan begins. All bulk customers have been required to use the secured electronic documents and have just finished the final testing phase. The Digital Post platform has been determined a success! It offers corporate and government entities a secure, convenient and cost-effective medium to communicate with their customers.
Currently, SAPO is back into a steady growth phase and looking to add many more innovative and progressive services to its portfolio, increasing its importance in the South African economy. It continues its determined effort to become digitally enabled, adding new digital services in the future.
Founded in 1989, Escher Group is a world-leading provider of point of service software. With offices in five countries across the globe, we work with customers in over 35 countries. Our core software, Riposte®, together with its wider Transaction Management Platform, can be used in the postal, retail, and logistics industries to enable enterprises to expand their offerings and provide new services.
The Riposte® platform can also operate at significant scale and solve the complex problems for enterprises and central and local governments as they eliminate paper and transition to fully digital processes in their commercial interactions.As a digital transaction management platform, it ensures the same transaction experience on a desktop, enterprise mobile device, consumer mobile device, the web, through a third-party agent, or as a cloud-based managed service deployment. Escher Group is part of Escher Group Holdings plc which trades on the London Stock Exchange.
South Africa Post Office
The South African Post Office (SAPO) is the national postal service of South Africa and is a state-owned enterprise. It employs over 18,000 people and operates more than 2,200 postal outlets throughout the country with a presence in almost every single town and city in South Africa. The history of postal services in South Africa can be traced back over 500 years. The South African Post Office Group currently consist of a number of divisions and subsidiaries operating in the fields of mail, financial services, logistics, property, electronic commerce and retail services.
The second largest activity of the group is financial services, which it offers through its savings bank, Postbank. Formed in 1910, it is the largest savings bank in the country with more than 6 million customer accounts, making it one of the largest banks in South Africa as measured by customer number.&nbps;