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Old 30-January-2003, 21:04
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Default Royal Mail trials electronic stamp technology

From VNU Computing
Royal Mail trials electronic stamp technology
By Emma Nash [29-01-2003]
Users will be able to download stamps and print them onto envelopes.

Consumers and businesses could be buying electronic stamps on the internet by the end of this year, if trials due to start at Royal Mail are successful.

The organisation plans to begin tests on the new system in the next three months.

'You will be able to buy stamps online and print them on your printer,' Paul Kelsall, information systems director at Royal Mail told Computing. 'You will also be able to put your logo or a picture next to it.'

If all goes well, electronic stamps will be generally available before the end of the year.

The technology is being developed by Lockheed Martin, the company which supplies Royal Mail with its sorting machines.

'It has to interface with the mail sorting machinery so when an electronic stamp hasn't been paid for, it can identify that,' said Kelsall.

The stamps will contain encryption technology to reduce potential fraud.

When an electronic stamp is printed, the cost will automatically be deducted from the customer's account.

Royal Mail is enthusiastic about the arrival of electronic stamps, but is being cautious about their potential.

'We are obviously getting into this because we think people want the convenience that will be introduced with it,' Kelsall said. 'But this is only a trial, we need to check usability and take-up which is important.'

The stamps will also be designed to work with common PC applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
But you still have to walk to the nearest post box!
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Old 30-January-2003, 23:00
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Yes, that walk is a problem. What we need is some sort of system where you don't actually print your letters out, you just send them from your computer and they arrive automagically on the recipient's computer, they could call it "electronic mail" (although that's a bit of a mouthful) or something. You could simply stick the stamp on the top right corner of your monitor in the normal way.
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Old 30-January-2003, 23:07
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Nah, it would never catch on
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Old 31-January-2003, 07:11
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But making people pay for that kind of service might catch on !

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Old 31-January-2003, 13:58
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I was in our little local Sub Post Office this morning and they print out stamps when you have, say, a registered package to send, so I guess this is just an extension. It already goes on in the US because a year or so ago I noticed that you could buy a 'stamp' printer (which is like the Post Office ones!). It's a bit like connecting a Franking machine to a computer.

When I said "Nah, it would never catch on " above I meant in response to DavidMad's comment above of "they could call it "electronic mail" "!
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Old 01-February-2003, 21:32
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I'd rather like the idea of emailing a letter, message or greeting to a local Royal Mail office where, for those without computers, it could then be delivered by regular post (or courier if extra is paid).
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Old 01-February-2003, 22:57
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But doesn't something like that exist already? How are telegrams sent nowadays? I know that the recipient still gets the paper message but can/do you not phone the message thro' to somewhere? If so then there can be know real difficulity in getting that part from an email - can there?
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