Australia Post launches Digital MailBox service

Australia Post’s new Digital MailBox service was launched today by government communications minister Stephen Conroy. The new digital mail service allows consumers to receive bills and statements electronically free of charge, communicate with service providers and store important documents, as well as set reminders and pay bills online.

Australia Post said businesses can use the service to communicate with their customers “at a fraction of the cost” of using the physical mail.

As the new service was launched today, Australia Post revealed that five more big service providers have signed up to use the Digital MailBox to communicate with their customers.

And, government departments could join soon, giving Australia Post a major boost as it competes with private sector rivals Digital Post Australia.

Australia Post already had telecoms giant Telstra, Australia’s second largest bank Westpac and pensions provider AMP signed up.

Among the latest firms joining the digital mail service are Australia’s other major banks – ANZ and the National Australia Bank. Financial services firm Adelaide Bank, share registry firm Link Market Services and the utility Yarra Valley Water have also joined the service roster.

Australia Post said it will also use the Digital MailBox itself to communicate with its own employee base of more than 30,000 staff.

Government departments could also be among those using the service to communicate with consumers – the minister said today that the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Services (DHS) are currently discussing how to make use of the Digital MailBox.

The DHS manages more than 4m online accounts through which people connect with government services, and services more than 22m Australians through Medicare, the country’s universal healthcare system.

Conroy said one of the key government goals under its digital economy strategy was for four out of five Australians to engage with the government online by 2020.

“The new Australia Post Digital MailBox is an excellent example of the kind of service that will enable the achievement of that goal,” said the minister.

“Potential”

The new Digital MailBox comes as part of a AUD $2bn investment plan by Australia Post to steer the company towards growth opportunities in digital communications and parcel delivery, as its traditional letter volumes dwindle.

Ahmed Fahour, the Australia Post chief executive, said that with the three major banks on board, two big government departments, Telstra and AMP the digital mail service’s mailers represent more than 70% of the mail volume for Australia’s top ten mailers.

“Both businesses and government agencies are realising the potential of new platforms such as the Australia Post Digital MailBox to open up a trusted new avenue for communicating and transacting safely online,” he said.

“Citizens have trusted Australia Post with their communications for more than 200 years. Now we can complement what we deliver for the community in the physical world with a digital product that is safe, easy-to-use and convenient.”

Rivals

Australia Post’s rival in the digital mail space is a consortium called Digital Post Australia, which is backed by financial services IT firm Computershare, marketing firm Salmat and Zumbox, the US-based digital mail specialist. The consortium is also launching its service this autumn.

In August Australia Post lost a court battle over its rival’s use of a trade name it said could cause confusion among consumers, leading some of them to believe the service was run by Australia Post.

Earlier this month (16th October), Fahour told a Senate budget committee that Australia Post will be appealing the ruling over the trade name.

“We believe a huge injustice has occurred and therefore we are appealing the decision,” he said. “We are waiting for our opportunity to be heard on the appeal in regards somebody else feeling the need to use our name to prop up their business.”

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