Epost expanding with webdoxs acquisition

EPO Inc. announced on Thursday that it has acquired services from e-business company BCE Emergis for $14.5 million in a move to strengthen its epost offering — a service that is responsible for delivering mail online for Canada Post.

With the purchase of BCE Emergis’ online bill delivery service, or ‘webdoxs,’ EPO plans to combine its existing epost functionality with the webdoxs business-to-consumer services to allow for a single Canadian Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) method.

“This network will connect Canadian businesses and consumers by convenient online locations that include the online banking Web sites of every tier one financial institution in Canada,” said Roger Couldrey, president and CEO of epost.

Until now this market was fragmented between two consolidation services. Canadian consumers could get half of their bills at one service and another half at another, Couldrey explained. With two distinct services competing for consumers and companies it was difficult for either to grow the market.

“By ending this fragmentation — in effect consolidating the consolidators — we believe we will now see a significant acceleration of consumer adoption of the new combined and enhanced service that epost will provide,” he added.

Epost’s new expanded service has the potential to “mirror” the adoption rates seen in online banking, Couldrey said.

He added that the acquisition also helps to accelerate the industry by giving companies an expanded user base of more than one million Canadians and a potential user base of close to 10 million Canadians that are currently banking online.

“Secondly, it gives consumers more incentive to use the service,” he added. “Epost will now offer approximately 70 per cent of the critical mailed documents in all major markets across Canada.”

Through epost, consumers living in all major markets across Canada will now be able to receive phone bills, cable bills, credit card bills, wireless phone bills, retail credit card bills and hydro and water bills, Couldrey explained. “These represent a large majority of your regular bills.”

Rogers Communications Inc. in Toronto, chose to offer epost as a billing option to its customers over a year ago when its users starting requesting that the company provide its electronic bills through a consolidated service, explained Ron McKerlie, vice-president of e-business at Rogers. But there was more than one offering to choose from.

“There were two available [options] at the time and we realized that model was probably not sustainable, so we picked the one that we thought would be most likely to give us the best service,” McKerlie added.

Epost’s acquisition of webdoxs is “a great move” according to McKerlie because the market is too small for two competing services — which may have been a contributing factor to a slow adoption rate.

“Some of the billers weren’t sure [who] they should go with, it’s too expensive to go with both. Should they develop for one versus the other or just wait to see what happens?” he added.

The technical migration — which epost’s Couldrey said will need to happen in order to combine the content of the two services and make the new service available through all epost access points — will happen in two phases.

Phase one is a short term six-month phase, which will be focused on ensuring that bills from both providers will be available for delivery by both services.

The second migration will take a further 12 months in which epost will “discuss with [its] partners how they feel the epost service should be incorporated into their Web sites.” Couldrey also noted that epost is planning to complete the technical migration in-house.

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