Technology that lets Internet users print their own postage stamps is coming to the UK.
US innovator Stamps.com plans to license its Internet postage technology to postal authorities around the world, following its launch in the US next month. Presentations will be made to interested parties at its offices in California and London.
Stamps.com's technology lets users buy postage online using a credit or debit card, or by electronic transfer from a bank account. Stamps.com utilises the PC's printer to output postage, which is encoded to avoid fraud, as well as names and addresses. The cost is subtracted automatically from the user's account.
By licensing this technology, Stamps.com claims postal services around the world can bring Internet postage services quickly and inexpensively to their own customers.
"Stamps.com created the international licensing program to help postal services around the world seize the opportunities of the new millennium without having to break the bank on research and development spending," said Stamps.com chief executive John Payne.
Payne said the US market for postage was worth about $60 billion in 1998 and the total global market for postage was worth $145 billion in the same year. The company kicked off its international licensing program at the United Postal Union's global conference in Beijing this week.
The Stamps.com service also corrects addresses using an official US Postal Service database, inserts the zip+4 code and provides automatic postal rate calculations. Stamps.com also said as part of an agreement with Microsoft, it will offer the Internet Postage service through Microsoft Office update Web site.
In addition, Stamps.com will integrate with existing address books, word processors and other applications, including Microsoft Word and Outlook. Microsoft also has an alliance with E-Stamp to provide its postage service to Microsoft Office users.
Founded in 1996, Stamps.com recently completed a $30 million round of financing. Partners include America Online, My Software, Microsoft, Quicken.com, Galileo International and Seiko Instruments.
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