How could Amazon deliver without an address?

From ZDNet:

Forget Amazon’s much-vaunted testing of drone deliveries to your home. South African startup WumDrop has launched a new precision service that delivers parcels to GPS coordinates taken from a customer’s phone, rather than a physical address.

The Deliver2Me service, which relies on old-fashioned trucks and bikes to drop off packages rather than drones, is launching with the backing of a local retail group but has been on trial since November.

Founder Simon Hartley says during the testing phase, the firm boasted “100 percent accuracy” for delivery, beating traditionally-addressed deliveries over the same space of time.

Delivery to GPS coordinates has long been mooted as a solution to a global problem that impedes the growth of e-commerce in many developing countries. Lots of people in many nations don’t have formal addresses.

Unless you’re the victim of unfortunate circumstances or have made a specific life choice, chances are that if you’re reading this, you probably know where you live. And that’s important, because without an address you probably can’t get a job, a bank account, apply for credit — and you probably can’t buy much online if no one can deliver it to you.

. . . .

UN organisation the Universal Postal Union reckons there are four billion people who don’t have a proper address, while the International Telecommunications Union estimated that 3.2 billion people were online in some form by the end of 2015.

“Even in South Africa, which has arguably the best road and address infrastructure in Africa, address data has an unacceptably high rate of inaccuracy,” Hartley says.

As in many African countries, there are large areas of South Africa which simply don’t have formal street names and numbers. This inhibits the deployment of emergency services, and postal services, even in the relatively wealthy middle classes, are still sub-par and not reliable or accurate enough for many.

Link to the rest at ZDNet and thanks to Felix for the tip.

9 thoughts on “How could Amazon deliver without an address?”

  1. How is something like this not subject to rampant fraud? Is the phone number confirmed as a match to the credit card before delivery somehow?

    • They may question it if it’s not the phone that credit card was used with before, and the would-be fraudster may not want the delivery person snapping a picture of them tying them to that phone number and possibly stolen credit card.

      (And still in select/test areas for now.)

    • We are moving to phone-based pay systems where the phone account is a “credit card”. APPLE PAY, Google Pay, Samsung pay, etc.

      A lot of businesses accept those accounts for payment both in B&M and online.

  2. I don’t understand. People have enough $ to have cell phones and enough money to order stuff online and pay (huge?) delivery fees. But the country/area is too poor to have proper street addresses?

    Wouldn’t the solution to that problem be–I don’t know–fixing up the streets and having proper addresses? That might solve other problems like unemployment.
    [I used to live in such a poor area when I was a child. I understand completely.]

    I’m not a fan of stuff dropping out of the sky. It just seems that type of technology can be used for EVIL. I’m a writer. I can think of all kinds of scenarios, and only one of them is a good one.

    • Worldwide, relatively few cities are planned communities with neatly laid out streets and up-to-date address databases like American suburbs. Instead, they grew organically and haphazardly with residents often flouting city zoning and buikding regulations. It is far from unheard for backyards or alleyways to spawn new structures in between previously extant buildings. Or an existing structure might get partitioned. (Sherlock Holmes’ 223B address wasn’t just a literary conceit.) A warehouse might get replaced by a dozen structures, upsetting the original numbering. Or a whole block of big houses might be replaced by an appartment building or double or triple the number of “hallway houses”.

      Another issue is duplicate and near-duplicate street names within the same city. In some places, housing developments simply nunbered their streets, all starting with “First” making the development name essential. Others simply number the units within the development sometimes sequentially, sometimes by block.

      The newest wrinkle is changing postal delivery policies and the increasing spread of gated communities. Some places don’t get postal service but get UPS and vice versa. Add in mailbox businesses and you get both places without postal addresses and “street addresses” that aren’t.

      It’s messy and irrational.
      It has spawned many attempts to rationalize addressing, like this one:

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