02 Jul 2010

RPost Delivers Key Capabilities For Outbound E-mails

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Everyone knows that e-mail is ubiquitous. In fact, if you are reading this, you can probably not conceive of being without e-mail. Although much e-mail is mundane and routine (at best!), many are very serious business indeed, such as proposals, contracts, orders and invoices, legal documents and other critical and/or sensitive correspondence. For these, you want features, such as certifying that a message was actually delivered or including an electronic signature. For this type of functionality, RPost as a Los Angeles-based software company has made a business of providing managed outbound messaging services.

Essentially what RPost does is provide plug-in software for the sender that empowers them with a set of high value outbound messaging tools , including certification (proof of delivery, content, and time), encryption and electronic signatures for contracts. Individual vendors may provide one of these three services, but RPost claims to be the only company to provide all three services in a single integrated product.

The key functionality of RPost’s solutions is certification which RPost calls “Registered Email.” Electronic certification is the equivalent of the Certified Mail service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) for physical mail which provides legal proof of delivery, although RPost’s version goes farther with essential features for the electronic world. As part of this process, there is a time stamp that can prove when the e-mail and any attachments were legally sent and received. The recipient needs nothing on their end.

In addition, and very importantly in the electronic world, it is also legal proof of the delivery of the content of the e-mail and its attachments. This is very critical for time-critical legal notices or general correspondence that has consequence if receipt is later denied or content challenged. RPost can attest from legal cases that have involved the use of its service that its solutions deliver as advertised.

A return of a receipt for a fax, courier, certified or registered physical envelope or package only confirms that the envelope or package had been received. It does not give any proof of what was actually mailed. Say that a revised copy of a contract was sent to a recipient. The sender now has proof of what version of the contract was sent, which may prove important if key changes had been made since a previous version.

Note that the proof RPost provides is one of delivery to a particular mailbox with detection of opening when it can be determined. Nothing can be done to ensure that the recipient actually read and understood what was being sent, but they cannot claim that they never got it. Certification is also important for other important e-mails that may not have legal consequences, such as whether or not a proposal was delivered by a deadline. Such proof has no legal standing but can provide a means of sleeping easier, such as knowing that someone to whom you sent an e-mail has no grounds for complaining that they never got it.

Signatures are still required to prove or approve the validity of a document, such as a contract. Although many transactions are now conducted without a signature, such as using a credit card online versus having to provide a signature for a credit card transaction in a physical store, many others still require a signature. And even though electronic signatures are sometimes allowed, the old-fashioned handwritten signature is still often required.

That has tended to result in Rube Goldberg solutions where a document is physically printed, signed, and then either faxed or scanned and then e-mailed as a PDF attachment. RPost enables the sender to send any document attached to e-mail and the receiver receives it in a form that permits them to hand write a mouse-scripted signature right onto the contract. This use of an electronic mouse to hand write a signature may or may not result in a perfect looking signature, but it is legal!

Some e-mails must be kept confidential and RPost enables the use of encryption to ensure data privacy. Obviously, encryption is not unique to RPost, but it is a necessary functionality for an outbound messaging services product. RPost optionally sends an auto-generated e-mail with the password in advance of the encrypted e-mail to eliminate the need to exchange passwords.

This is certainly not a perfect solution if an unauthorized individual is examining all e-mails that are being sent to a recipient, but then that is a problem whose cure goes well-beyond encryption into serious security products and strategies. An important benefit of RPost’s encryption service is RPost’s proof – in this case, proof that provides the sender a record that they complied with any encryption requirements. Such proof can serve as the protector from fines in case there is a downstream data breach that is incorrectly blamed on the sender.

When using e-mail on an everyday basis, we tend to forget that there are added functions that would be handy to have available to use as needed, such as proof of delivery, proof that the e-mail came from us, ability to bind agreement by email, and guaranteed confidentiality of the e-mail. And now RPost solves those types of problems with its outbound messaging services capabilities as an all-in-one offering. These services provide certification, e-signatures, and encryption that meet those three needs. Quite frankly, those are the capabilities that anyone who uses e-mail for serious purposes, such as business correspondence, should find useful at one time or another if not more frequently.

Please note that while RPost is not a Mesabi Group client as of this writing, the company has provided me a free product license for sending Registered Email messages for several years. Actually using the product has helped me better understand how it can be applied in a business environment. Personally, I like to know that I have the capability to do such things as certification, e-signatures, and encryption whenever the need should arise.