Snail mail is about to get a lot more convenient in northern Europe. Soon, the residents of Denmark and Sweden will be able replace stamps with a hand-written code (that is sent via text) on the envelope.
Thanks to character recognition software, the system, to roll out in Denmark on April 1st, is automated with machine sorters. Germany piloted a similar system back in 2008 (a link to an English-language website includes a handy illustrated demo), but German mailers must pay a small premium for the service (95 cents compared to 85 cents).
As the German video demonstrates, a mailer sends a text message to an automated system, and then receives a 12-digit code back, which they scribble in the upper-right corner.
Swedish residents will have to carry stamps around bit longer than their Danish friends, as the system will not be available there until sometime during or after Summer. Additionally, the system will only handle smaller parcels—up to 4.4 pounds—for the moment.