Initially a joint initiative between Computershare, Salmat (which is in the process of selling its stake to FujiFilm) and Zumbox the service will be free for consumers, while organisations using the service to reach customers will be charged around 15 cents for the digital delivery of bills or other official correspondence. (Companies using the service will still be liable for the business process fees that they traditionally pay for the generation and distribution of bills or notices – but the delivery cost will drop from around 60 cents for a paper bill to 15 cents for a digitally delivered bill or notice.)
Digital Post Australia also intends to launch digital post apps for iPhones, iPads and Android devices when the service goes on general release later this year.
Recently appointed CEO, Randy Dean, who has relocated from Zumbox in San Francisco to take on the local management role, said he hoped to attract 25-30 per cent of the Australian population to the service in the first 18 months of operation.
It’s a big target and Digital Post won’t have the market to itself. Australia Post has also announced it will launch a digital post service, and has run a legal challenge against Digital Post Australia. While it lost its initial case, Australia Post has an appeal pending regarding alleged trademark infringement.
To reach its ambitious user targets Mr Dean said that Digital Post Australia would rely on a combination of its own direct marketing campaign, and the campaigns run by big business which would rather send communications to customers online rather than through physical mail services.
He said that the business model for the organisation had it achieving break even on its original investment within two years.
How will it work? Read on.
Digital Post Australia is an address based systems and to participate consumers will have to register their street address, and they will then have a PIN sent to them, which will be used to complete the registration process. To receive mail electronically they will have to agree to the terms and conditions of the individual billers or other organisations using the system.
After that all communications will be sent to their Digital Post mailbox. From within the mailbox consumers will be able to pay bills, organise and store their official correspondence, and tag items, for example tagging specific items as tax related, which can later be searched using that tag.
Mr Dean said that users would be able to load up their own documents for safekeeping on the site for free. At this stage there is no limit on the amount of documents which can be stored, although there will be some limits on data types – video for example cannot be loaded up, but photos could be.
For the organisations sending material to customers, there is also the opportunity to introduce interactive services. For example a bill might be sent to someone which looked like a conventional paper bill, but which also displayed an interactive link to a call centre.
While consumer convenience is a major selling point, Mr Dean said the beauty for many large organisations was that digital mail services; “Create a digital link to the physical address,” which marketers could use to target particular geographies or demographics.