Over 350 years after it started delivering letters, Britain’s Royal Mail has launched the online stamp. It may be bad news for stamp collectors, but should save customers as they will no longer have to queue up in post offices. The new service allows them to buy and print their postage via the internet.
Customers can pay by selecting the appropriate amount for their letter or parcel and using a debit or credit card or a pre-pay account. A unique barcode is then printed directly onto envelopes, labels or paper before the item is posted. Royal Mail said the service will be useful for people who work from home and who post small quantities of mail on a regular basis as well those who sell goods via auction websites.
The Royal Mail has been using stamps since 1840 when it issued the famous Penny Black featured a picture of Queen Victoria. Before then postage was paid by the person who received the letter. The internet stamps are part of the Royal Mail’s fight hard against private competition.
The publicly owned company lost its monopoly on postal deliveries at the start of this year. Philatelists said this was not the beginning of the end of the postage stamp as the Royal Mail, like post offices worldwide, makes a lot of money from issuing special subject stamps aimed more at collectors than just for posting letters.