The first company approved in the US to sell postage over the Internet now wants to lick the rest of the world.
Armed with a new inflow of $16 million in venture capital funds, Palo Alto based E-Stamp has partnered with Francotyp-Postalia, the Berlin based vendor of postal metres and other mailing equipment, to expand the market for E-Stamp's digital postage product.
Francotyp-Postalia, which along with Compaq is a new investor in E-Stamp, has the experience to overcome problems with national regulatory authorities, claim the partners. It already has approval in 86 countries to sell its metres and therefore has the knowhow to push E-Stamp through regulatory morasses.
E-Stamp's chief executive, Sunir Kapoor, would not name which countries he would target first through the new alliance, as negotiations with regulatory authorities are ongoing, but he said beta tests in Europe and Asia would begin late this year or early next.
"The international market potential for E-Stamp is enormous. This is the future of postage," said Ulrich Fehlauer, chief executive of Francotyp-Postalia, which has subsidiaries in the US, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Austria, and Italy.
E-Stamp's first product, E-Stamp Internet Postage 1.0, is a software and hardware solution that provides the means for users to purchase postage via the Internet.
The company's proprietary secure ecommerce platform gives any user with a PC, a printer and Internet access a secure way to purchase and print postage.
Users buy the postage online using a credit card, transferring funds electronically or pre-paying by check. Postage is then downloaded and secured in the E-Stamp Security Device, an electronic vault that connects to a PC's printer port. Any printer with a resolution greater than 300dpi can then print off the stamps.
The company is in the process of expanding its beta testing in the US and expects to be operating commercially next year.
Microsoft and AT&T Ventures, the phone company's venture capital arm, were early investors in E-Stamp. In the latest round of cash venture capital firm Canaan Partners, Francotyp-Postalia and Compaq joined them with cash totalling $16 million.
Compaq also said it would include E-Stamp within its set of Internet based solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Compaq's 'online.postage' service will be shipped as a standard feature on future releases of its SMB desktop and portable PCs.
"We recognized E-Stamp's market focus and innovative technology as strategic to our SMB business," said Kenny Kurtzman, vice president of Compaq's SMB division.
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