The U.S. Postal Service is about to get some competition in the digital world. Zumbox is launching the public beta test today for its all-digital alternative to the paper postal service.
Wait a minute, you’re thinking. Isn’t that email? Nope. Westlake Village, Calif.-based Zumbox lets you send or receive scanned, physical representations of letters, bills or other things you might normally send via paper mail. You can log into your mailbox at the Zumbox site and then receive digital delivery of your mail.
And you don’t have to put a stamp on anything. For now, it’s free for everyone except advertisers and marketers, who can pay for premium service. Consumers can now view online the mail they wish to receive and the service allows them to access it from anywhere at anytime via the Internet. Glen Ward, president, said that Zumbox can deliver mail instantly seven days a week.
Zumbox has created a digital mailbox for every street address in the U.S. So companies can send bills via Zumbox. You open them and they look like scanned versions of the real paper bills. The Zumbox site will let you look at a variety of media in the form of HTML, Flash, audio, and video. Nonprofits, businesses, government entities and consumers can use it for free.
Zumbox mailboxes are secure since the company uses a closed system with security measures that meet the toughest regulations, such as the medical-record HIPAA law. Users get a secure PIN number which they receive from Zumbox via paper mail, just to make sure that scammers don’t hijack your mail. The benefit of the closed system is there’s no junk mail. Consumers can still order and use a variety of electronic payment systems. They can also browse through the catalogs they want to see and order goods.
Zumbox will charge advertisers and marketers because it gives them real-time campaign measurement tools that are unavailable through traditional mail. Marketers and advertisers can also send mail to a single address, a mailing list, or a specific geographic region such as all of the homes in a specific zip code.
The company was founded in 2007. It has 33 employees and has raised $4 million from private investors. The company’s founder, Maury Friedman, is a successful entrepreneur who has sold a number of companies.
Rivals include Earth Class Mail, another provider of alternative mail services. Zumbox currently has only a few thousand users, but the company will now open up the service to all comers.