Text messages replacing stamps for Scandinavian posties

Scandinavian posties are using mobile phones to lick the problem of buying stamps, with postage paid via text message.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Scandinavian posties are using mobile phones to lick the problem of buying stamps. Denmark and Sweden are introducing a system of paying Postman Per via text.

Danish service Post Danmark and Swedish postal service Posten AB are adopting the high-tech system to make it easier to post letters, packages and cards.

It'll work by sending you a code to write on your letter. Danes simply stick the letter, card or parcel -- up to 50g -- in an envelope, as normal, then text-message the word 'porto' to the number 1900, and in return receive a unique code that you write where you would previously have stuck a stamp. Then pop it in a postbox as normal.

Postage costs 8 Danish kroner (92p), the same as a first-class stamp. At launch, you'll need a subscription with a phone network, but pre-paid accounts should follow.

The code is read by sorting machines just like a normal stamp, which Sorting Office Sigrid reckons will ensure you haven't just written any old numbers on your missive.

Denmark is launching SMS stamps on 1 April, with Sweden to follow later this year. Germany has had a similar system for a couple of years, but the text-message codes are more expensive than normal stamps.

Packages and parcels will always be necessary to send real items, but what about letters? When was the last time you sent a letter? Have text messages, PayPal payments, emails and e-cards replaced love letters, cheques, complaint letters and greetings cards in your life? Answers on a postcard to the usual address -- in the comments or on our Facebook wall.