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AOL, E-Stamp create Net postage service

The firms announce that E-Stamp's Internet postage service will be available for consumers and small businesses who use AOL, CompuServe, AOL.com, and AOL's Digital City.

    America Online and online postage firm E-Stamp, hoping to save people trips to the post office, today announced that E-Stamp's Internet postage service will be available for consumers and small businesses who use AOL, CompuServe, AOL.com, and AOL's Digital City.

    The companies hope to offer users the value and convenience of securely purchasing postage online and printing "digital stamps" anytime on envelopes, labels, or onto a document using their personal computer and standard printer.

    "E- Stamp's easy-to-use services are a great match with our goal of offering more convenient ways to handle the things that are important in our members' everyday lives," said Barry Schuler, president of AOL Interactive Services. "We believe E-Stamp's services will be very appealing to our members and Web-based users--saving them trips to the post office."

    E-Stamp will be a partner in AOL's new Postage Services Center, scheduled to launch in early 1999. As part of the agreement, E- Stamp will extend special, exclusive offers and promotions available only to AOL members.

    The E-Stamp Internet Postage service will also be available to CompuServe members and visitors to AOL.com and Digital City through new postage centers also soon to be available on each brand.

    AOL's postage centers will have direct links to E-Stamp's Website, where members and Web-based consumers can purchase postage using a major credit card, transferring funds electronically, or prepaying by check, the value of which will be stored in the customer's account.

    "AOL and CompuServe members and Web-based users know that AOL brands offer safe and secure communities where consumers have become increasingly comfortable conducting electronic commerce," said E-Stamp president and CEO Sunir Kapoor in a statement. "Those trusted brands are the perfect place for people to try and use E-Stamp Internet Postage and eliminate the hassle of going to the post office."

    E-Stamp has been approved by the U.S. Postal Service to provide consumers and small businesses with its online postage services in limited test markets. E-Stamp expects to have national approval in early 1999 and at that time will make the service available nationwide.

    Stamp metering giant Pitney Bowes and another start-up Stampmaster also have also won approval from the USPS.

    The way the service will work is that once E-Stamp Internet Postage has been installed, AOL members or other Internet users can buy and print postage anytime from the Web or directly from desktop software applications.

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