USPS delivers PC Postage

The U.S. Postal Service today announced the commercial launch of an Internet-based program that enables people to download postage stamps, print them from their home PCs and pay for them online.

The launch of the PC Postage program is the culmination of more than three years of effort by USPS and several vendors to build the program, which involves such technologies as digital signatures and public-key infrastructure, USPS officials said at a news conference.

USPS also identified two companies whose solutions have passed what USPS officials said were rigorous security requirements, clearing the way for them to begin selling their products in stores. The two companies are E-Stamp Corp. and Stamps.com Inc., both of which said they would within weeks begin nationwide distribution of PC Postage products aimed at small businesses and home offices.

"We know there are 8 million small businesses in this country. A certain percentage of them are linked to the Internet for the conduct of their business, and we see a significant portion of those finding this interesting for postage stamps," said Patricia Gibert, vice president of retail for USPS.

PC Postage enables those customers to cut the number of trips they make to the post office and the amount of time spent standing in line, Gibert said. The service also will increase the automated movement of mail, but Gibert said no study had been conducted to determine how much money the program will save the Postal Service.

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