Concept for improving email: StampMail.com

2014-11-27

in Economics, Geek stuff, Internet matters

Often, email feels like an impossible torrent of mostly-unwanted information.

For a while, I have felt like one way to improve it would be to require refundable stamps for messages. In order to send you an email, a person might pay $0.50 or $1.00 for a virtual ‘stamp’. When you receive the message, you get to choose whether to refund the sender (perhaps minus a set fee for the email provider), or keep the value of the stamp yourself (again, minus a $0.05 or $0.10 cut).

If emails cost $1 each to send, there would be a lot fewer trivial ones. I doubt many people would totally replace their normal email with StampMail, but a lot might set up a parallel account for higher-priority messages.

Some spam will be profitable enough to make sending emails with stamps worthwhile. There are two responses to this. First, StampMail could be a lot more aggressive than existing email providers about banning accounts that are sending spam. Second, any spam you receive is more tolerable when it comes with a $0.90 to $0.95 payment.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

anon November 27, 2014 at 6:55 pm

First, StampMail could be a lot more aggressive than existing email providers about banning accounts that are sending spam.

They will have a strong incentive to be less stringent, since they get a cash payment for each message.

Milan November 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Arguably, no. Their business model would be based on attracting and retaining customers by reducing the volume of email. That would probably be sufficient to override the short-term temptation to profit from selling stamps to persistent spammers. Any account sending messages that other users report as spam (over and above presumably not refunding the stamp to the sender) a sufficient number of times could be automatically suspended, reviewed by a human, or banned.

Milan November 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm

MailChimp has a system that charges people for sending large numbers of emails, but there is no mechanism for it being refunded by users who wanted the message:

“If you’re not a frequent sender, you can purchase credits that work like stamps for email. Buy them when you need them, and don’t worry about squeezing value out of a monthly plan that doesn’t fit your needs.”

http://mailchimp.com/pricing/growing-business/

. November 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm

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