Many industries can broadly benefit from the introduction of NFTs, such as finance, gaming, and art, but not many people consider the postage and shipping industries as a place for NFT innovation. These people, however, may not be aware of the power of NFC chips, ownership authentication, and the current bottlenecks experienced by the postal industry. With the introduction of the Crypto Stamp, a new technology pioneered by the Austrian Post (and now on its third iteration), NFTs continue to permeate mainstream society.
The introduction of a NFT postage stamp goes well beyond novelty, introducing tangible value into the mailing lifecycle. As stated by CoinTelegraph, a popular cryptocurrency news outlet, “According to the Austrian Post, the use of NFC technology eliminates the need for creating an additional scanning app to verify ownership of the NFT postage stamp”. Using near-field communication (NFC) technology, the latest Crypto Stamps allow owners to verify the authenticity of the physical stamp based on internalized metadata stored on the blockchain in the form of an NFT. Each physical stamp has a unique digital counterpart, and this digital counterpart serves as a collectible and unique way to guarantee proof of ownership over the stamp. By provably determining ownership and authenticity, these stamps will play a more critical role than ever.
With Austria taking the lead on NFT stamps, creating their first iteration in 2019 (and becoming the first government-backed institution to issue its own NFT), others have begun to follow. So far, the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau has plans to launch NFT stamps, as well as the United States Postal Services (USPS), one of the largest and most active national and global postal services. With over $73.1 billion in revenues generated by the USPS in 2020, if NFTs become even a fraction of their revenue generation, it will be a massive success for NFTs, showing what they can provide beyond collectibility.
Stamps and NFTs Share Some Similar Characteristics
Although stamps and NFTs may not seem like an obvious match right off the bat, they share many of the same properties that make them sought after. For one, they are financial tools that carry a value as well as an artistic expression, with many stamps produced as collaborations between world-class artists, celebrities, and to memorialize historical events. Although the value dictated by what the stamp can purchase is predetermined, NFTs still hold a value on top of their artistry as well, even though it can sometimes be harder to determine the tangible value when compared to something like stamps with more collectible history. On top of this, both stamps and NFTs have avid collector bases, propelling some of the rarest varieties to multi-million dollar price tags.
With the ability to complement physical stamps and provide a digital layer of security and authentication, NFTs representing stamps have already begun to make their mark in the postal industry. With hundreds of billions of dollars of global postage revenue per year, NFTs have the opportunity to make drastic improvements to the current postage infrastructure and bring it into the 21st century in style.