Australia Post and Telstra have announced that they will work together on Australia Post's Digital MailBox product.
Australia Post announced earlier this year that it is planning a digital mailbox that will come in app form for mobile and laptop devices. The MailBox product will feature "bank-level security" to ensure that customers wanting to pay bills, store files and receive emails can do so safely. Australia Post said that the mailbox will be so secure that customers can store a copy of their passports or tax records in the app.
Acting like a digital vault for documents, the MailBox helps users find documents and set reminders for bill payments, which can be made online from any device.
Under the new memorandum of understanding, Australia Post will offer Telstra customers access to Telstra communication documents, like account statements and bills, in the MailBox.
The two companies are also discussing hosting the MailBox on Telstra's cloud platform. Australia Post stressed that all information would be stored in Australia.
The telco has also been contracted to carry out services for Australia Post branches, although there was little detail on what services it would be providing. ZDNet Australia has requested information on the subject.
Australia Post aims to have a MailBox available to all Australians free of charge later this year.
MailBox is Australia Post's attempt to cannibalise its own letter service, instead of standing by while other companies cannibalise it.
Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour explained the concept in Budget Estimates last week.
"If you go back a generation, Australia Post had a true monopoly on written communication. Today, we have less than 1 per cent market share," he said.
"We know that we need to offer a digital communication channel, simply because that is how citizens increasingly prefer to communicate."
The product isn't at all like email, he said.
"This is completely and totally different to email. What it is, essentially, is a platform like Facebook, as an example, or some kind of site that you go into. You will have a user name and a password which you type in. Your dashboard will come up."
It will mean that you don't have to remember 30 passwords to see and pay bills, he explained.
Just before Australia Post announced its Digital MailBox, Digital Post Australia brought out a similar digital mail service that acts as a personal assistant, notifying users when bill payments are due and keeping digital documents together for secure access.
Australia Post is concerned that consumers may be misled or deceived by Digital Post Australia's choice of trading name, which it feels is too similar to its own. It filed an application for an interlocutory injunction against Digital Post Australia with the Federal Court in Melbourne for breach of the Competition and Consumer Act. However, the court ruled in favour of Digital Post Australia.
Digital Post believes that its name describes what its service does.
The issue is still in dispute in the courts, and is obviously a sore spot for Fahour.
"We did find it amusing that we invited all our customers to this grand opening six weeks before our actual announcement, and they announced theirs two weeks before we announced ours. It was three and a half weeks after the invitations had gone out," he said last week.
"Unfortunately for us, one of the players in the joint venture was invited to come. They decided all of a sudden they were going to make an announcement, and they did that to us. I am not saying that they tried to do it before us to look like they were first — of course not. Why would a commercial company try to beat Australia Post?"