I received a very interesting question from a reader named Jimmy in Texas. He writes:

“I’ve noticed over the years that having an email account isn’t the problem! The problem seems to be that we as holders/owners of an account need to have that trust within. Problems withs HOTMAIL, GMAIL, YAHOO having people hacking into our email accounts. Then we talk about passwords (123456, qazwsx) that aren’t secured. So give us the.real scoop on email and tell us what lies in the future with email and it we can expect there to be a cost for free email services in the future.”

Gee Jimmy, that’s a lot to think about. I can’t predict the future of e-mail, but I can tell you where I think things might be headed.

First of all security issues will continue to plague every form of electronic communication. Where there’s a way to steal money or con folks out of their hard-earned cash, crooks will follow. I think you’ll see a move away from having a password to what’s called two-factor authentication.

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An example would be Yahoo’s plan where instead of a single password that you use each time you log in,  they send a text with a temporary password. Outlook.com also offers a similar features for Microsoft Accounts where you need two pieces of information to sign in and they send a code to an alternate e-mail address or to an authenticator app on your smartphone.

Some smartphones give you the option to sign in with fingerprints, but look for more and more accounts to offer biometric options like facial recognition.

Also look for your e-mail provider to take more of a hand in pre-sorting your e-mail for you.  The old days of e-mail just showing up in your inbox in the order it was sent are on the way out. This way of sending messages is what’s called a “dumb pipe.”

What mail providers want now is a “smart pipe.” The smart e-mail account will sort your mail by advertisements, social media, delivery notices and personal. Many of these accounts will also scan your mail for messages so they can show you what they feel is relevant information.

For example, Google’s Inbox looks for things like flight confirmations and then lets you know what the weather will be like that day and will even notify you if your spouse’s plane is expected to be late.

I wouldn’t look for providers to start charging for e-mail, but do look for them to mine your accounts for as much data as they can get their hands on in order to target advertisements and services to you.  Perhaps, we will see paid tiers of service that protect your privacy offered by mail providers or alternative companies springing up that offer privacy for a price.

~ Cynthia