Royal Mail today launched the UK's first digital stamp, based on an online postage purchasing system called SmartStamp.
Customers of the web-based service will be able to use their own PCs to create personalised stamps, pay for them over the internet and print them directly onto envelopes which can be posted in the usual manner.
Subscribers to SmartStamp will receive a CD-ROM containing a software application to be loaded onto their desktop computers, which is used to create mailing lists and address envelopes. The software can also be downloaded from the web.
When users are ready to pay they connect to the internet and submit an order. The cost of the stamps is then deducted from a pre-paid user account, which can be topped up with a credit card or by direct debit.
Users also pay either a monthly or annual charge to subscribe to the service: £4.99 per month or £49.99 per year.
Businesses and individuals will be able to brand SmartStamps with their own logo or designs.
Alison White, head of business products at Royal Mail, said: "SmartStamp will suit anyone working within a small or home office.
"The optimum usage level is about 10 letters per day. If you send out this much post, then we recommend that you seriously consider using SmartStamp."
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