UPU’s blockchain project brings philately into the digital world

Under its .POST Group (DPG), the UPU has launched a new blockchain project aiming to create a digital marketplace to host, trade and track crypto-stamps.

The project is sponsored by STAMPSDAQ, which became a private sector member of the DPG in October 2020. STAMPSDAQ is a start-up venture dedicated to creating, developing and operating a digital stamps marketplace, which will use blockchain for transactions, such as the issuing, trading, collecting and payment of crypto-stamps. 
Paul Donohoe, manager of the Digital Economy and Trade program at the UPU, and secretary of the DPG crypto-stamp working group, says, “The project was launched in November following significant interest from the private sector to work with the UPU on developing blockchain solutions. STAMPSDAQ will be working together with members of the DPG to launch the unified digital marketplace for crypto-stamps and philately.” 
One of the main aims of the UPU’s DPG, which currently has around 40 members from posts and private companies from around the world, is to promote the innovation and integration of digital postal services. “The crypto-stamp project is a perfect fit for this group,” adds Donohoe. “It really will be a truly global approach, and this is where blockchain has real benefit. Its value is in bringing different parties together in a transparent and secure environment under .POST.” 
The work group has already held two virtual meetings to discuss the use of blockchain, crypto-stamps and the benefits of a global marketplace. A work plan has been established, and over the next 9 months STAMPSDAQ will work closely with the group’s members to understand everything related to the issue of digital crypto-stamps.  
“The work plan covers three main areas,” explains Donohoe. “First the group will work on the technical building of the blockchain for the crypto-stamps and setting up the unified marketplace. Second, there will be some policy and legal issues to address as this is a global platform for all UPU members, so we need to have the right UPU framework in place to ensure the blockchain is secure for all postal members. The third part of the plan is the creation of the first crypto-stamp and the posts beginning to load their own crypto-stamps on to the marketplace.”  
According to Donohoe, the aim is for the marketplace to go live in summer 2021 in conjunction with the 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to be held in August.  
“We have had a lot of interest from members already, with more than 40 experts from 23 member states joining the work group meetings so far, bringing their expertise ranging from blockchain platforms, philately through to postal operations,” Donohoe explains. “One of the most interesting aspects of this project is that blockchain enables people to track the origin, authenticity and the current ownership of a crypto-stamp, therefore creating fully traceable digital collectables for the postal sector.
“The postal sector represents one of the oldest collectable industries, but the crypto-stamp marketplace is opening up postal collectables to a whole new group of people, and introducing them to the digital world,” Donohoe adds.
Blockchain has proven its worth in many different industries around the world as a secure framework for managing transactions. In the postal industry, many operators are experimenting with the technology to see how it can benefit them. “The Tunisian Post, for example, was one of the earliest to explore blockchain applications. Its e-dinar service uses blockchain technology to manage financial transactions within Tunisia. The unique thing about the DPG blockchain crypto-stamp platform, however, is that it is a global platform for all countries to utilize. 
“Aside from bringing together the digital millennials and the postal operators, it is hoped that the crypto-stamps and the marketplace will help support the growth and accessibility of the postal sector, and lead to other blockchain projects through the UPU,” Donohoe concludes.    
The UPU .POST Group is a forum for member states, their postal operators and private sector organizations to work together toward the digital transformation of the postal sector and adoption of the .POST domain. Thanks to the .POST cybersecurity framework, internet solutions can be made available in a safe and secure environment for all UPU members regardless of their level of economic and technical development. For more information on the work of the .POST Group please visit: