Pitney Bowes CEO: Mail Still Preferred Over E-Bills

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Mail is far from dead, and many predictions of its demise have proven incorrect so far, Pitney Bowes chairman/CEO Michael J. Critelli told a meeting of financial analysts in New York this week.

Among the false predictions Critelli discussed:

· Some experts had predicted that electronic bill presentment would replace physical bill presentment by now, but physical bills and statements make up a growing mail segment. There are still 17,000 times as many bills presented in physical form through the mail compared with electronic presentment, and customers still prefer to receive statements in the mail even if they pay their bills electronically.

· As society grows more technologically sophisticated, it was predicted that the Internet would be used more than mail. But evidence shows the opposite. The more tech-savvy a person is, the more mail that person sends and receives. Mail volumes vary with income levels: The higher the income, the more mail.

· No evidence supports claims that physical mail will decline as computer-savvy children age and enter the work force. Again, income is the main determinant. As younger people make more money, they send and receive more mail, and the more closely they will resemble their parents in their frequency of mail use.

"As we look at the current size and diversity of the mail stream, and separate the myths from realities, we see no current probable scenario that could adversely affect the growth ranges for the total mail stream," according to a press release quoting Critelli.

Critelli also serves as co-chairman of the Mailing Industry Task Force.

At the meeting, Critelli said 425 billion pieces of mail were generated worldwide last year. U.S. mail volume increased 2 percent to 206 billion pieces, and addressed mail in Europe grew 1 percent to 126 billion pieces. He attributed part of the growth to the expanding use of mail in new markets, such as mail-order pharmaceuticals, digital photo albums and video/DVDs.

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