In a world where speed is everything, a new product is becoming popular that takes it s-l-o-w. It’s called Future Mail. In China, several companies are offering to deliver mail as slowly as you want, — even weeks, months, or years into the future. No time machine necessary!

Some customers are using Future Mail to send letters to their future selves, others use it to be sure their anniversary, birthday, or holiday greetings will arrive exactly on time. Future Mail customers simply fill out, address their cards, letters, or packages, and specify the date they want them delivered. These new companies will make it happen. One can even purchase gifts and flowers to be sent in the future.

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When signing up for the service, customers are assessed a fee depending on how long the company has to hold on to the deliverables. Customers must also provide current contact information, in case their item is undeliverable in the future. Once the letter or package is handed over, the company tucks it away in a safe place until the date selected comes around. Though some customers have concerns about what happens to their packages if the companies fail, the service continues to catch on.

This unique service may prove to be a new revenue stream for the U.S. Postal Service. Do you think there will be a market for Future Mail here?

This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

Comments (9)

  • anon

    I would love to see this service in the USA. As an educator we can use this as a device to help young people (who mostly live at home with parents) to plan for their future. I was in Taiwan last year, organizing a college camp for 800 students. The Taiwan postal service has future mail. As part of the camp, we asked the students to think about what kind of person they want to become ten years later, and write a letter to their future selves. The letters were sent the letters a year later (for practical considerations). Last week they received them, and were so surprised and excited, they felt that what they learned in the camp were refreshed and had another opportunity to look at their future selves. I am now in the US and I'd love to be able to do similar programs with the young people here.

    Sep 12, 2016
  • anon

    It sounds great, in which countries is this service provided? Today I first time send mail to the future, not through the company but if some will provide this service I will use it. Do you know how these companies in China of Taiwan are successfully?

    Nov 16, 2016
  • anon

    Is this in effect now? Because I definitely would love to use it!

    May 25, 2011
  • anon
    George Anderson

    WOW. As I started to read this I thought, "Weird! Why would anyone want to do this?" but as I continued I started to see the potential benefits. It would be great to write love letters, send birthday, valentine and anniversary cards to your loved one in advance so that you could never get in trouble for forgetting the dates!

    May 20, 2011
  • anon

    Does this mean that I can pre-send a birthday card, sympathy card, or or perhaps, divorce correspondence? The benefit being, I could strategically align personal feelings I happen to have at the time I author or create the future mail. Thus, alleviating the possibility that my “normal” emotions, I might be experiencing at the real time event, might be abnormal due to natural biological or physiological circumstances. Yeah, I could see the benefit of such a service…. Those dogone "Chinese" are always on point! ” “Dude, the preferred nomenclature being Asian American”, PLEASE! Who would have thought of that app? It’s kinda like pre-paying you’re taxes. I mean with $14 Trillion Deficit, who wouldn't pre-pay postage today at a discount? Let's do the arithmetic on urban broadband service's in 1998, and now, in 2011. Meaning how most folks pay bills now. If I had 100 FC letter's/month to send at current rate, versus a wireless "cloud" plan today with 100 secure app transactions/month. (a) How would they compare? $44.00 versus $XX.XX. (BTW) Does the economic stimulus agenda included a tax benefit to “future mail? It's not like the cost of sending a first class letter is going to go up, right? (a) Secure being very loosely stated...

    Nov 12, 2010
  • anon

    Chinese do stuff like this because they've had a recognizable society for 5000 years, they seem to THINK long-term. Whereas America can't even fully fund a 10-year road construction program without somebody down the line cutting the guts out of it. China is laying down MORE asphalt, American states are ripping it up. Nuff said

    Nov 06, 2010
  • anon

    Great ideal for an entrepreneur to fill a niche but not the US Postal Service.

    Nov 04, 2010
  • anon

    I disagree with postal sanity for that reason I am guessing it doesn't have a sentimental or emotional understanding of it's purpose. Purposefuly it is meant to send things that are meant for the future, which can be anything from an anniversary card, just in case you forget, or even a birthday card. I think this will become a hit, with our busy lives people love to plan ahead and sometimes forget, so doing this will save a lot of people forgetting important things meant for that special someone.

    Nov 02, 2010
  • anon

    We think it is unlikely that "Future Mail" will become a huge business in the U.S., especially since the mindsets of Chinese and U.S citizens are not exactly alike. A more detailed insight into "Future Mail" can be found at this link: Do Americans attach sentimental values to writing letters? How many people would be writing letters to themselves? Another issue will be that U.S. citizens move quite frequently (not sure about the Chinese). Keeping track of address changes, plus ensuring a timely delivery on a set date, will require some sleek and cost effective logistics. USPS covers half a continent, whereas the "Future Mail" services in China seems to operate on a more local level.

    Nov 02, 2010

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