Of the 192 UPU member states, only about 50 have a specified postal address system. In developing economies, without addressing, Posts can’t move forward with e-commerce parcel delivery. Expensive postal boxes are not the answer. These Posts must leapfrog this stage with the use of technology.

With accelerating urbanization, the delivery challenges for these Posts are enormous. However, there are equal, challenges when asked to deliver to remote rural areas.

Rocinha Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Haiti Countryside

Djibouti, East Africa

Some Posts in developing economies are using what3words to provide an instant and reliable way to address every property in a country. It means postal services can deliver more efficiently to their customers, helping to unlock new opportunities and fuel economic growth. Nigeria has become the seventh country to adopt what3words for mail deliveries, and the third in Africa. The system is already being used in Mongolia, Sint Maarten, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Tonga and Solomon Islands.

Sint Maarten Post Office, Caribbean

With 7 national postal services already having adopted what3words, 3 word addresses are fast becoming an addressing standard. Global logistics giant Aramex has also integrated what3words to provide better customer service and improve deliveries to poorly addressed areas. In a recent test pitting 3 word addresses against regular street addresses, London-based on-demand courier service Quiqup found that using 3 word addresses reduced overall delivery time by an incredible 30%.

The what3words algorithm turns lengthy GPS coordinates into just three words, taken from a list of up to 40,000 vocabulary items in 14 languages, including English, French and Spanish. What3Words enables consumers, businesses and governments to use the three easy to remember words instead of the usual street address.

It is more precise than traditional addresses, simpler than descriptions, and easier to communicate and remember than long strings of GPS coordinates. The system has built-in error detection and is available both as a mobile app and API integration. The system works offline without a data connection, ensuring it can be used everywhere.

The technology, developed by a UK company, assigns three-word names to each 3-by-3 meter patch of land on the planet (57 trillion meter squares).

For example, the Tongan royal palace is located at refresh.soundboard.remove and the tiny island of Kelefesia is at bailing.streaks.reunify.

Danish postal solutions provider Lyngsoe Systems and what3words have developed a new solution that can scan 3 word addresses. The solution has been integrated into Lyngsoe Systems’ Manual Image Capturing Stations (MICS).


Individuals, delivery companies, navigation tools, governments, logistics firms, travel guides and NGOs use what3words. Since the algorithm doesn’t need to store all the information, it requires no Internet connection and is only 10 megabytes in size, which makes it flexible for most smartphones and devices.

Postal delivery personnel can type any address into a smartphone app or the website and get directions to it, or see it on a satellite map.

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