USPS puts stamp on online billing

The fear of losing billions in revenue has pushed the U.S. Postal Service to deliver an online service for electronic billing and payments.

Through a new online service called eBillPay, USPS is offering customers the option of paying their bills online via a secure World Wide Web portal. The Postal Service is partnering with CheckFree Corp. and YourAccounts.com to present the service.

USPS is trying to survive in a market that is moving toward electronic messaging and bypassing postal services, said William Kovasic, a procurement lawyer and visiting professor at George Washington University who specializes in the USPS.

"The USPS had to make this move or it would be a failing firm," he said. "[USPS'] future is at risk without change. This raises the question of what the role of the USPS will be in the future."

Nearly two-thirds of all recurring bill payments, such as mortgage and utility bills, are delivered by the Postal Service every year. If all bills were paid electronically, the USPS could lose between $15 billion and $18 billion in revenue annually. That's why the Postal Service wants a leadership role in how the transactions are completed, Postmaster General William Henderson told postal workers during a recent convention.

Located on the USPS Web site (www.usps.gov), eBillPay will give customers a central point of contact to pay their bills. Unlike commercial sites, which require an individual pass code for each transaction, eBillPay customers enter the site once and "pay everyone."

All transactions are secured with user names and passwords and Secure Socket Layer used to prevent outside inspection. The system also uses 40-bit and 128-bit encryption to make information unreadable as it passes through the Internet. "

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