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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Delivering postage stamp on Internet:

Proposal for postal stamp on Internet in pipeline
An executive of Pitney Bowes discusses the company's business plans in India
            Pitney Bowes has been present in Indian market since last five years and indirectly, with partners, the company has been doing business in this market for almost the last 20 years. There are about 500 people in its Noida center where PB develops solutions for Indian and global market. Leslie Abi Karam, executive vice president and president, mailing solutions management of the company, in an interaction with Prasoon Srivastava of CIOL, discussed PB’s business in India and mentioned about the availability of technology to bring postal stamp on net. Karam added that the Department of Posts has not yet given clearance to this proposal.


How are you proceeding in the Indian market in accordance with your business agenda?

            Pitney Bowes’ strategy lies in understanding the demands of customers and hence manages customer communication. The whole idea lies in exploring the opportunity for Pitney Bowes in the Indian market and how PB’s vision can create a market place here. In particular the adoption of mobile phone is quite high in India, which creates a pull factor in the significant market. Along with this the traditional market is also building up with traditional media migration.

Which are the new business models you have, especially for the promotion of your business in India?

            As efficiency and security are the big part of any business here in India, we keep in mind leveraging those solutions with our products. Pitney Bowes has the ability to market and drive communications physically and digitally. The Internet penetration, although low, is growing, and mobile penetration, which is quite high, manages the multi-channel mix of communication. And that is what Pitney Bowes is very strong in.
            We are probably the strongest in the world in the field of customer communication management; we have the ability to integrate print and mail and to manage a high print environment – both physically and digitally.

As far as Internet penetration is concerned, how is PB’s business of mailstream making use of it?

            We do a number of things, we deliver postal accessories digitally to the consumers so that they can take it from their computer and print it, apply a label to the parcels, postage to web envelope with printing, digital communication and many other CRM activities.

I would like to explore more about this particular solution of delivering postage stamp on Internet. How is India placed in terms of adopting this kind of a solution?

            It is not yet happening in India through Internet. The Department of Posts has not yet given clearance for this method. This is a concern in a number of markets around the world today. The other thought process we have is the ability to create transactional document and deliver them physically or digitally, whether they are small business owners or big enterprise owners.
            We just entered the color print space with the ability to provide targeting messaging with digital variable print, and for that we have partnered with HP. We also have solutions that allow customers to generate direct marketing campaigns online. These are all the solutions in terms of value integration.
            If we look at the emerging market strategy for key markets, India being one of them, we are looking at the best way to deploy ourselves in these market places and build much values that allow us to be a large player in India.

What about your adoption of the solution in India? Which verticals are adopting the solution?

            There has been modernization in bills, which are printed nowadays and given to customers. As far as banking is concerned, there is a shift from passbooks to statement and when you have statements they need to be created, printed and distributed. For the credit card market there has been customized solution to offer them transactional mails.
            There has been a complete solution for the entire mail stream right from data collection to delivering – right from composing of data, integrating, presenting, printing to folding the mail through mechanized devices, putting inside the envelope, sealing, pasting the address and then franking the envelope. This is where we are looking at in the Indian market deploying the entire mail piece solution along with transactional mailing.

What is the status of your franking business in India?

            Franking as a technology is well received in the Indian market. We are also in the process of migrating from electronic to digital. This enhances the capability of capturing the information and the technology that we have captures the information from the meter, collates and then we can translate them into postal services.

What about the tax meters solution adoption in India?

For tax meter, the acceptance is state wise. Even though everybody adopts the central stamp, every state has to go in for amendment in their respective Act and offer an ultimate solution to physical stamp papers.
            Majority of the states in India have approved the use of tax meters. Rather it would be better to say that Pitney Bowes' stamp meters are the most acceptable alternative for the physical meters. By this, citizens can pay stamp duty conveniently, easily and reduce and also help government to reduce the cost of collecting revenues.

How many states are you currently engaging with?

            We are engaging with 11 states, and a couple of more states are working with us for rolling out this project. Some states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar have all approved the use of tax meter as an alternative to physical stamp paper for evidencing proof.

What kind of overall opportunity do you see for your company in India?

            If you look at the technology option, from our standpoint, we are at an early stages of technology adoption in India. The opportunity for us to provide technology to telecom, banking, insurance is significant. Currently we are in talks with many organizations across India. We are looking at a double-digit growth here.

Most of the companies are switching to e-bills instead of paper bills. Isn’t it a deterrent to your business?

            We participate in both physical and digital space and we believe that the mails are going to be driven by the customers and by the way they want to interact. The transition is always going to be part of the protocol and the communication mix is going to change where the solutions are designed end to end to start digitally and physically. So we would be able to lead in terms of hyper management of communication.

Which segment would contribute the maximum to your business here?

In India Pitney Bowes has two key businesses, namely secure evidencing and customer communication management (CCM). In the second one, we provide end-to-end solution from data to delivery. Hence the growth expected in these two areas are also a little different.
            In case of CCM, we see a significant growth coming from banking and telecom. On secure evidencing we see a continuous growth on both postage and stamp duty statement. Currently secured evidencing do contribute a larger portion of our revenue but going forward the CCM is going to pick up at much faster pace.
            So we are kind of looking at touching a 50:50 level in the next three years. The current ratio is 80:20 between secured evidencing and CCM.
Source: CyberMedia News

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