Royal Mail has finally revealed the new-look, simplified Postcode Address File (PAF) licence – designed to increase take-up of the service – in a move hailed as a major breakthrough by the DMA.
The overhaul follows months of controversy over the database, including calls for it to be free for all companies, uproar over the new pricing structure and MPs blasting the Government for including PAF in the Royal Mail sell-off.
Under the new regime, starting in April 2015, there will be a shorter and simpler set of licensing terms, an updated pricing structure with fewer pricing points, a reduction in the “full UK, full PAF” per user price, as well as the retention of the current bureau arrangements. Meanwhile in changes already announced, independent “micro” businesses – those with an annual turnover of less than a £2m – will get one year of free access to the file. And small registered charities – those with an annual income of less than £10m – will be offered open-ended free access.
Royal Mail has also reached an agreement with the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills and Scottish Government to introduce a centrally paid Public Sector Licence to cover use of PAF.
DMA executive director Chris Combemale welcomed Royal Mail’s announcement. He said: “PAF is an essential business service for many DMA members, so we’re pleased that Royal Mail has simplified its licensing terms and user fees.
“The feedback that we gave to the consultation on behalf of our members has been reflected throughout the changes to PAF, showing Royal Mail’s commitment to working with the industry. Making PAF easily available will help drive innovation in one-to-one communications between brands and their customers.”
The changes follow a major behind the scenes battle between Royal Mail and the DMA after the first draft of the licence included plans to charge up to 8p for each record check.
At the time, GI Solution deputy managing director Patrick Headley said: “The industry is up in arms and this will result in pandemonium. If this goes ahead it will be devastating to the industry and I can see companies going out of business. I hope Royal Mail sees sense.”
The DMA then led a delegation of industry representatives for showdown talks with Royal Mail’s senior management, which ultimately triggered the U-turn.
Revealing the new licence, Royal Mail managing director of consumer and network access Stephen Agar said: “Over the last few months, we have consulted extensively with the market and its representatives to develop a framework that offers users a shorter, clearer, simpler licence with a wider scope for innovation and fewer restrictions on the use of PAF. We’re confident that the new licence offers the continuity and flexibility that we know the market as a whole wants.”
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