Who On Earth Needs A Digital Postbox?

Digital Post Australia is planning to introduce a "free online postal service which allows you to receive all your essential postal mail, in one central and secure online location". I've already got one of those; it's called email.

When I first saw the announcement of the service (which is due to launch later this year), I briefly thought it might be a variant on the notion of 24-hour lockers for delivery, which are a cool concept. But it isn't. Nor is it a service that scans all your physical mail (there was a failed attempt at that in the form of AllMyBills in the early 2000s). Instead, it will offer the following:

The digital postal mail platform is a closed system, restricted to verified mailers and individually verified consumers linked to a physical mailing address. This means that companies using the service can be confident in the secure delivery of their communications to the right person and users can be assured that only they can access content contained in their digital postbox.

Consumers don't pay, but vendors will presumably cough up to use the service. That might be cheaper than physical mail, but the reality is that most service providers already offer the option of getting an email bill. Indeed, many charge a fee if you insist on a postal bill. And if you want to consolidate your bills, some banks offer that as part of their online banking platform.

Between email and various social networking services and my mobile phone number, I already have quite enough inboxes. Having to set up a separate one just for my bills isn't going to help. What do you think?

Digital Post Australia

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Comments

    Next they'll be faxing me their website.

      And then giving you a link to view it online

    Wow, how puzzling! They expect vendors to pay, to be able to email their bills to a centralized location. (?) What exactly does this gain vendors that they can't already get for free?

      The fee will be something like $2 or whatever, the vendor will then pass that fee on to the person receiving said mail. It will be like Carbon Tax :-)

    I think this is a good idea. Particularly for Gov't mail. Might even be a good way to vote if it pans out.

    I believe the reason for this is that email is an unsecured medium. Anybody can spoof an email address, claiming to be from someone else, and you cannot always be certain that the email address you're sending something to is actually the person you want it to be (all it takes is a typo).

    This service provides a secure email medium, similar to other products that use digital signatures and encryption. The main network security concept this address (which email doesn't) is message origin authentication.

    The benefit is that Digital Post Australia probably guarantees the vendors that the users will receive the email/bill/communication, which is hardly true when sending a regular email - you have no way of knowing whether it was received by the receipient or not.

    And don't think that delivery/read receipts are an answer to that, because some people (including myself) refuse to allow their email client to return a delivery/read receipt to the sender.

    And soon they'll have competitors, and you'll have multiple secure digital in-boxes to comb through to find that bill !

    I like the above comment about voting this way...

    If they combine it with a bill-scanning service, I can see it being useful - they'd be able to tag all your mail and email into the right categories regardless of where it came from.

    If they don't have bill scanning, the only advantage over email is the categorising which could be replicated by a couple of simple email filters.

    Maybe this is something that Australia Post should consider. They create a programme that people that sends bills out or whoever, this programme then sends the Emails through to Australia Post where they will then pass on the bill(s) to whoever in a secure fashion. The client Programme can use PDF or another one to help secure the information. The Emails that are being sent can then be held in a secure location (server like drop box) where people can then log in and retrieve. Tehy can then print or file it virtually.

    Easy, selling the programme to clients will help generate income to help fund for servers. Clients have 5 days to retrieve mail thus create more data space for others to use (recycling so to speak). Government funding can be given to help drive this forward as it will benefit govs greatly.

      more info here, and yes what Barry said is what is happening, apart from the delete after 5 days to clear space.
      http://technologyspectator.com.au/computershare-salmat-zumbox-join-forces-launch-digital-post-australia

    um, would be handy for someone that moves a lot... d
    o
    o
    s
    hh

    It might not be clear, but this service is run by Australia Post. Note the address:

    Digital Post Australia Pty Limited
    Level 17, 100 Arthur Street
    North Sydney NSW 2060

    Compare that to AustPost:

    Level 15, 100 Arthur St,
    North Sydney NSW 2060

    http://auspost.com.au/business/veda-advantage-solutions-group.html

      Actually, no, I take that back: https://digitalpost.com.au/Content/pdf/Media_Release_DPA_website.pdf

    Looks to me like they're taking a crack at the outdated BPAY View Bills system (which alot of billers have been moving off of).

    Still, the last thing I need is another email address.

    It’s great to see so much interest in Digital Post Australia already!
    We appreciate all your comments and will be working hard to address them as we make more information available about the service.

    Digital Post is quite different to email in that it is controlled by you, the user. It is linked to a physical delivery address and your digital postbox can only be populated with mail from verified senders (eg. your bank, telco, utility, share registry etc.) – eliminating susceptibility to spam, fraud and phishing. Instead of printing such mail (not just bills, but statements, dividend notices and other ‘essential’ communications), we enable the secure delivery of a digital version of the same document to your Digital Post account. You only have to register and verify your account once with Digital Post Australia (using your regular mailing address) and communications from authorised senders will be delivered to your Digital Post account from then on.

    Any communications delivered to your Digital Post account will be stored there for you for free. This means that if you change email providers, mailing address or service provider (bank/telco/utility), your old documents stay under your control in the same centralised online repository.

    You’ll be able to access your Digital Post account from anywhere – it will be available on iOS and Android devices, meaning that you can keep mail and bills under control no matter where you are!

    Digital Post Australia is a joint venture between Salmat Limited, Computershare Limited and Zumbox Inc. For more details visit https://digitalpost.com.au/Home/About
    To receive regular updates about Digital Post Australia we recommend that you register your details on our website https://digitalpost.com.au/

    And please keep the feedback coming – we love to hear what people think!
    Cheers,
    Tyler
    Digital Post Australia

      After reading that description, I kind of get it, but one thing isn't really clear to me. "Why do I want to use it?" I'm quite happy getting my bills via email, or in the mail.

      While reading the first few lines of this post, I thought it was a service where I give people your address and a mailing code. They send you the mail, you open it, scan it, and email it to me. That sounds more like Digital Mail. Plus, this saves me revealing my address to people - E.g Like having a PO box that I don't have to visit, I can read the mail online.

      This is something I have wanted for a long time. I move often and its a huge problem to get your mail redirected (or having to constantly return other people's mail). So easy to miss important letters.
      As we already have multiple email addresses, there should be an option to be able to forward the email and attachments to another account - ie: the gmail account I use all the time.
      Also, as we can already pay bills by going into a Post Shop, it would be a another killer feature if you could also pay bills using this system. Digitalpost could keep my credit card or bank details and enable quick payment (this could actually be safer than constantly logging into online banking.

    They are basically using the internet to remove Australia Post from the equation, this is something that I am behind %100 as long as they can deliver on all of their promises. Security, Zero Spam, %100 Uptime, no software bugs, reminders to pay bills.

    Interesting reading a lot of the feedback on this site. What it does show is that everyone has different reasons for the way they want to receive their bills. A lot of people like the paper bills, as they can store them to pay all their bills together when they get paid each week/fortnight/month. Once paid they file them away and then have the hastle of sorting them and summarising the details so they can put expenses into their tax returns (my pet hate each year). Then they file all the years paper away for 5 years, just in case they get audited by our friendly tax man. How painfull is this scenario.

    The other alternative is email with the bill attached or the site to go to and pay your bill. Many find this painful as the email always seems to get lost among other emails (unless you are very methodical in organising your inboxes) and can get skipped when it comes time to pay. Also, the younger generation do not use email very much anymore. They are into SMS and Social Media (facebook/ Twitter) solutions to get their bills. Email as stated also has so many scams these days, you can not tell if it is a real bill or not sometimes.
    One of the big problems in changing to email/sms/or the new Digital Post Office solution is getting ALL your bills on the same media whether paper/ email/ sms or DPA. At least this new DPA solution will allow the majority of consumer bills to be stored electronically, due to the percentage of the bills being processed through the owners of DPA. As long as consumers adopt this technology, you will be able to go to one place, retrieve your electronic bills ( and I imagine) pay them online through one weekly/fortnightly/monthly process and they store your records for at least 5 years. How great would that be.
    As an additional service, if they can then provide excel equivalents of the bills so you can extract pieces you want at tax time, then I think they are on a winning soluiton. Saves me storing all that paper or emails or sms's.

    I run a business where we scan snail mail and upload it to a web client.

    http://www.hotsnail.com.au

    The advantage is, its not just fo some bills, its for all yoru snail mail. Obviously emails are more convient but unfortunetly at the moment we can not do away with all snail mail, as much as we would like too.

    absolutely agree....just another password or username to remember.....this is exactly like the banks when internet banking was free...then a few months later they had a $.20c charge and then a year later they introduced a minimum transaction charge....watch out, once they get you in I bet you will have a monthly charge of $6.50 to use the service! So really, a bank statement in the long run will still be the most effective and secure way to receive your mail. Given the increase in hacking...not sure I want my credit card details on another site that has all my bills!

    According to the apparently "Official" post from Digital Post Australia shown above, one of the companies involved in this joint venture is Salmat, which is the company responsible for most of the junk mail (above 80%) received by Australians. So, when they mentioned "No Spam", I laughed. It doesn't sound particularly reassuring that this "junk mail company" is involved, I wouldn't want to give them any of my details. If you do try it out, keep an eye out on the amount of junk mail and spam you receive afterwards, chances are it'll increase greatly.

    @David I don't know that saying Salmat is responsible for most of the junk mail is that fair. I think that's like saying that Australia Post is responsible for the direct marketing that may or may not be relevant to you that arrives in your letterbox. Salmat does facilitate the delivery of advertising literature for many of Australia's retailers - physically to letterboxes, as well as through the Salmat run catalogue website Lasoo.com.au.

    All that said, in addition to delivering the "junk mail", Salmat is also the largest mail/print service provider in Australasia (and South East Asia too). Salmat BPO is responsible for printing and mailing about 60% of Australia's business mail. Although they print their share of direct marketing, most of their volume (about 38billion documents per year) is actually essential mail, like bills and statements. Part of the process of creating these printed documents, is also typically creating an archive for the call centres and the like, as well as providing documents to feed the online archives of the individual businesses, such as utilities, banks, telcos, etc. Digital Post Australia and other providers of digital mailboxes - including Australia Post's own Digital Mailbox service, GreenPost, and others around the world - are simply facilitating the consolidation of these already electronic documents, so that you don't have to go to the individual business' websites to see your online statement, you simply have an online mail box where they are automatically delivered.

    FYI, although I am in the industry, I am an educator and consultant and do not work for Salmat, Australia Post, Digital Post Australia, or any other digital mailbox company.

    BTW, it may be of added relevance, Salmat BPO was just acquired by Fujifilm http://www.outputlinks.com/html/news/OutputLinks_Salmat_BPO_SOLD_to_Fujifilm_082712.aspx

    ...and although it will be the same Salmat team continuing the process (I beleive), Fujifilm have also now taken over Salmat 40% share in Digital Post Australia, meaning that shares are now...

    40% = Fujifilm (who now own Salmat BPO)
    40% = Computershare (the 2nd largest essential mail produced in Australia)
    20% = Zumbox (the technology behind Digital Post Australia)

    I like the idea. Some vendors send bill email without attachment so you have to go to their website and login to view your bill. Some websites sucks UI wise. Having a digital mailbox provides a unique user experience accross all supported vendors.

    But the issue the number of supported vendor is to laugh at.

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