The $1.5 billion Undeliverable-as-Addressed problem and what blockchain can do to solve it

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) mail, a bit of a mouthful that refers to a very specific problem: packages and mail not reaching their intended recipient because the address is incorrect, incomplete, or illegible. UAA mail is costly to both carriers and their customers – about $1.5 billion a year for the Postal Service and $20 billion for the mailing industry, according to USPS. In 2016, more than 6.8 billion pieces of mail were undeliverable — 4.56% of USPS outbound volume.

But the costs of UAA go beyond just returning, destroying, or forwarding undeliverable goods and mail. For shippers, UAA result in both direct costs (packaging and shipping), opportunity costs associated with sale lost AND the potential future revenues from sale due to poor customer experience.

A solution of UAA could rely on blockchain. The idea is to create a digital ID for each physical address. More specifically, build a platform that provides verified addresses, in the form of digital identification numbers. Every Digital ID would include embedded geographical coordinates, a physical address, a route description and detailed photos that simplify the process of finding locations. This is the idea for Dmitri Moiseev, CEO and Co-Founder of Naviaddress, as presented in Digital Journal (http://www.digitaljournal.com/business/overcoming-challenges-of-logistics-with-digital-technology-q-a/article/527186#ixzz5LWzL8hTC).


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During my last 12 months at MIT, I have heard innumerable silly applications of blockchain technology. But it this case, I have to confess that I am attracted by the idea of an open, trusted, decentralized ledger containing address IDs that can be maintained by owners and transferred with the property. And the problem is big enough (the already mentioned $20 billion just for the mailing industry) to justify this asset and energy resource heavy solution. I am not sure if I would rely on a private company, but it is a step in the right direction.

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