RealTime IT News

AOL: You've Got E-Stamps

America Online Inc. will offer its members online postage and digital stamps through an alliance with E-Stamp Corp., the companies announced Thursday.

Consumers and small businesses who frequent AOL, CompuServe, AOL.com and AOL's Digital City Web site will be able to buy and print postage from the Web or from desktop applications, including Microsoft Word, after installing E-Stamp Internet Postage.

The E-Stamp Internet Postage software verifies addresses and prints the correct postage directly onto an envelope or a document while simultaneously deducting the postage amount from the customer's account.

The U.S. Postal Service has already approved E-Stamp's online postage services for consumers and small businesses in limited test markets. The company expects to have national approval in early 1999 and when then launch the service nationwide.

AOL's new Postage Services Center, available in the WorkPlace Channel, will launch in early 1999. E- Stamp will provide exclusive offers and promotions to AOL members. In addition, E-Stamp Internet Postage services will also be offered to CompuServe members and visitors to AOL.COM and Digital City through new Postage Centers soon to be available on each site.

The Postage Centers will link directly to E-Stamp's Web site, where both members and Web-based consumers can buy postage via major credit cards, transfer funds electronically or pre-pay by check and have the value stored in the customer's account.

"We believe E-Stamp's services will be very appealing to our members and Web-based users, saving them trips to the post office," said Barry Schuler, president of AOL Interactive Services. "We think there's a great market for this service on AOL.

"Thirty percent of the 2.6 million small businesses online in the U.S. are on AOL. That market share, on top of the hundreds of thousands of business-minded consumers who rely on the CompuServe service, provides our new online postage services centers and E-Stamp an audience that we think will be very receptive to time-saving services like this," Schuler said.