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Digital dialogue

October 3, 2013

Liam Church, president and chief executive officer for Escher Group, talks to Postal Technology International about the newly patented digital mailbox system designed to encourage citizens, businesses, governments and posts to collaborate securely online

 

Tell us about RiposteTrEx and the digital mailbox. 
RiposteTrEx is a digital communication platform, made up of participants (governments, businesses, posts and citizens) and assets (locations, objects and notice boards), which provides transaction and data services. RiposteTrEx is very much an open platform which our customers, mainly national posts, can deploy digital functionality to their existing mail, retail and logistics businesses. It is primarily a platform on which people can communicate.

As part of the RiposteTrEx solution, we offer a digital mailbox, which is where the patent applies. The mailbox can revolutionise the way posts interact with their customers. 

What is the digital mailbox?
The digital mailbox system can be used for managing bills, but it can also manage data of all types. It gives someone a place that he or she can store records, and a place from which they can interact digitally with suppliers and governments. It is fundamentally a communication tool. The digital mailbox system can also be used for online purchases and can track mail pieces of many kinds. We envisage it will be used to support e-commerce from order through to delivery, including parcel tracking and returns management and payment. We also see it being used both for hybrid and reverse hybrid mail.

What benefits will the system bring to posts?
The system will allow posts to add a lot of digital functionality to their existing business. Whether they are dealing in retail, or in the mails business, or in logistics, they can quickly add digital functionality to make their overall offering more comprehensive. It will promote them as more of a national digital hub.

How did you identify a need for the system?
As part of our research programme, we identified the need for a system that would give individuals greater access to, and control of, their commercial data in digital form. We spend approximately 20% of our revenue on research and development. Our R&D is targeted on the postal market and what we’ve identified in the world of communication in general is that it’s moving towards platforms. There was a need for a platform like this that spans logistics, retail and the mail side of the postal business.

How is the digital mailbox unique?
Existing solutions on the market really do nothing more than present statements.

In addition, there are lots of large logistics companies that have their own platforms, but most companies who are selling and having their contents delivered by the post don’t have a big software presence on the internet. Most governments are looking for a more inclusive way to communicate with their citizens and a way, which delivers contents to their citizens.

In my opinion, posts already operate a platform, which is comprised of their network systems and the rules and regulations that support them. The posts then add products one by one on top of this platform. Posts put in place a basic set of fundamental building blocks and then on top of that, one can add functionality. Functionality adds value, and things like e-invoicing, payments, tracking and addressing can be added to the platform. By developing a platform like this, it means posts don’t have to build systems and functionality every time they want to add something new. We believe the digital mailbox system is tailor made for supporting posts.

How can users access the mailbox service?
Users can access the digital mailbox system through mobile apps, on the internet, and they can also have a version locally. We think a lot of businesses will want a local version and particularly governments, because is allows them to control the system a lot more.

How will the product be offered?
We don’t intend to offer this mailbox service ourselves – we would like to work with posts and then they would offer it to their customers. We are currently targeting national posts and governments. We would really like for posts to use this while interacting with their big customers, to support their logistics businesses.

We already have one implementation in Ireland, as part of a collaborative government initiative. In this sense its being hosted by An Post, the national Irish postal service. While An Post hosts the system, the Irish Government uses it for communication.

The service is still rather new, governments in Ireland are still trialling it because it’s not in the millions of mailboxes yet, but it is live.

Words by Louise Rouvray

October 3, 2013

 

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