‘Digital postage fee’ coming soon?

Despite its convenience and affordability compared to traditional lettermail, email continues to grapple with one seemingly relentless shortcoming—spam.

Tyler Winklevoss, who along with his identical twin brother Cameron won $65 million in the 2008 Facebook lawsuit, recently proposed an email-vetting system powered by bitcoin—referred to by some as a “digital postage fee.”

In a tweet to Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, Winklevoss – who, again with his brother, invested $11 million into bitcoin in 2013 – wrote: “I can’t wait until crypto makes email market-based. Sending an email to @elonmusk and effectively renting his time to read it would have a price, sending an email to someone else would have another price, and so on.”

HOW IT WORKS

Essentially, someone receiving an email would charge its sender a pre-determined fee – it could be with any currency, but in Winklevoss’ case, with bitcoin – in exchange for reading the incoming email.

Existing platforms allow users to earn digital currency by replying to incoming emails or charge a fee – again in digital currency – to receive an email, like Winklevoss’ idea; however, the former Olympic rower turned investment manager is hoping to implement his system on widely used platforms such as Google’s Gmail.

“Spam would be decimated and you would be one click away from anyone in the world as long as you were willing to put your money were (sic) your mouth was,” he added.

Some Twitter users responded – although Musk has yet to acknowledge the idea – saying secretaries and administrative assistants already perform this vetting.

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