Germany is definitely changing – drop into an office in Berlin’s Mitte district for instant proof – but the country still retains a big chunk of its more traditional, old-fashioned, risk-averse business culture. Take, for example, the postal service; companies and institutions just love sending letters. It seems crazy to have to rely so much on a form of communication which, for the passage of simple information at least, has been all-but obsolete for years.
But the beginning of the end could be in sight – ‘intelligent assistant’ Gini has partnered with postal behemoth Deutsche Post to give users the chance to digitize their physical mail. The Munich-based startup will enable all letters to be sorted automatically, and its app will allow you to access all of your mail any time and anywhere.
That could include bills of delivery, invoices, insurance documents – items you don’t really want to be carrying around with you the whole time.
Gini says its AI technology analyses mail in an intelligent way – letters will be sorted into the appropriate folder, deadlines will be recognised and invoices paid, all automatically. Its “technological heart”, Machine Learning, is responsible for enhancing a simple cloud document repository into a kind of digital personal assistant.
Deutsche Post will use the platform in its new electronic mail service E-Postbrief, with the end goal of having all physical mail scanned securely and sent instantly to the Gini app of the E-Post-Portal.
The new service will be free and will be available to every German households from this autumn. There will still be a need for snail mail, of course – a postcard, say, or your new credit card – but electronic alternatives are surely the future when it comes to most bureaucratic exchanges. The only surprise is that it took so long.
Gini, which is funded by Deutsche Telekom’s T-Venture and comparison portal CHECK24 among others, used its AI expertise to fight off stiff international competition to secure the Deutsche Post contract, and there was no doubt what swayed the choice. Dr. Thomas Schumacher, VP of partnering at E-Post, said: “We have chosen to cooperate with Gini because of the unique and self-learning technology that has deeply impressed and convinced us. It is truly amazing what this young team has been able to set up in such a short time.”
And he promised: “Sorting documents is just the beginning – together with Gini, Deutsche Post will enable customers to handle all their private documents as convenient and securely as possible.”
That means your electricity bill will not only be put into the right folder, but the system can also be told to remind you to pay it before it becomes overdue, or even pay it itself through a connected payment service.
In order to adhere to Germany’s strict privacy laws, data will be encrypted several times and stored under “only the strongest privacy policies, never leaving German servers”, according to a release.
Gini co-founder and CEO Steffen Reitz promised that “consumers in Germany will soon be able to access all their important documents from any spot in the world, thus ticking off tasks instantly on the go – resulting in an incredible amount of saved time.”