The U.S. Postal Service can play unique and positive roles in the expansion of the peer-to-peer marketplace, as suggested in a new OIG white paper, Peer-to-Peer Commerce and the Role of the Postal Service. American consumers are familiar with peer-to-peer (P2P) digital commerce and increasingly comfortable buying and selling that way. Millions of people place offerings and shop on eBay, Craigslist, etsy, and other sites every day. In recent years, the P2P segment has grown beyond these traditional product sites and now includes services from which users can rent a vacation room in someone’s house, lend or borrow a private car, or even hire someone locally for small jobs, such as baking cookies for a child’s classroom party or assembling modular furniture. However, there are a number of problems in current P2P commerce that may prevent wider adoption by the American public. Market participants face the challenges of balancing convenience with privacy and the potential for economic or physical harm. Some of these issues can be addressed through enhanced digital identity and authentication services, but there are other opportunities, which the paper presents. The paper describes P2P digital commerce and challenges and gaps in the current marketplace, including several types of fraud and threats to personal property and physical safety. It then identifies Postal Service products and services that exist today or might be developed in the future to facilitate market expansion. Current postal ancillary and special services, both physical and digital, are well suited to the P2P market. These include insurance, Registered Mail, Certified Mail, Collect on Delivery (COD), Track and Trace, Return Receipt and Return Receipt for Merchandise, Restricted Delivery, and other services. Please share your comments on this concept as well as observations on your own P2P experiences, if any, below. [poll id="241"] [poll id="242"] [poll id="243"] Do you believe a trusted intermediary such as the Postal Service could help in this segment? Please give us your comments below:

Comments (4)

  • anon

    I am looking to find a way to ship my products from the Etsy store. Any good way to ship un-framed paintings? Thanks, DD

    Mar 14, 2014
  • anon

    One of the nicest parts of dealing with the USPS is doing business with a trusted source. I'm not sure what can be done to bridge the gap between the "old way" and new school methods. It alomost seems like the newer, younger generation that "grows up" under the new format must be aged into the process. The same theory exists for newspapers as many old timers still like to read the actual printed paper yet the younger generation that never experienced this notion is getting older. So I see a time variable to the equation and that is just something we cannot speed up.

    Feb 05, 2013
  • anon

    I shared this idea with a friend of mine in the military who said it was great and could revolutionize shopping. But he asked how it would apply to an APO or FPO address - Any ideas?

    Jan 23, 2013
  • anon

    A lot of discussion has been given to what the Millennials think of the Postal Service. In my own (anecdotal) interactions with my fellow Millennials I find that, even though we admittedly don't use physical mail much (or at all), we don't seem eager for the Postal Service to just go away. Many of us youngsters do appreciate the history of USPS, its value as the cheapest option for shipping all those items we buy online, and also the trust of the brand. This paper makes a great case for leveraging that trust equity to offer verification services in new commerce markets, such as P2P. I have used facilitators like Craigslist and always been nervous about who I’m dealing with. I would certainly have felt safer and more assured in my transaction if the Postal Service verified it. Honestly, this would it likely for me to engage in P2P commerce more often. This would be good for the “peers” selling items and services, but also would be good for USPS. I am surprised they haven't started offering these services as it seems like a great way to finally break into the digital/e-commerce world and guarantee the Service's utility into the future.

    Jan 24, 2013

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