Two E-Stamp Products Approved

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The USPS recently announced that PC Stamp, developed by NeoPost, Hayward, CA, is the third PC-generated stamp product approved for beta testing of its Information-Based Indicia Program (IBIP). The program began in 1996 and allows small offices and home offices to print their postage directly onto envelopes or mailing labels from personal computers using laser or ink-jet printers.

Last month, the USPS approved another company's product -- StampMaster Internet Postage, from StampMaster, Westlake Village, CA.

Here's how PC Stamp works: Customers set up an account with NeoPost and rent a secure metering device that attaches to a PC's serial port. Users select the amount of postage desired online, their credit cards are debited and the postage is downloaded and stored in the security device. As each e-stamp is printed onto an envelope, the software deducts the postage from the security device.

Neil Mahlstedt, president of NeoPost, said his company has submitted another IBIP product for testing, PostagePlus, which is a software-only product.

StampMaster doesn't require users to purchase or rent additional hardware or software -- they simply download software from the company's Web site, which connects their computers to StampMaster's secure server site.

These products have met the USPS' laboratory conditions for security, operational stability, financial integrity and system security. The products will move from laboratory to field testing in Washington to gauge customer reaction and product efficiency. As the products progress through the beta program, they will be expanded to include the San Francisco and Tampa Bay areas.

Meanwhile, E-Stamp, Palo Alto, CA, the first company to get a beta test for its E-Stamp Internet Postage program, announced a new online version of its product. Instead of requiring users to download postage credits to a piece of hardware connected to a printer, the new version allows users to access postage directly through an Internet browser. The company is awaiting USPS approval.

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