ICT
December 14, 2012

The evolution of epost

In May, CGE reported on the deployment of identify management services in British Columbia under the leadership of Dave Nikolesjsin. Canada Post, through its new Digital Delivery Network and increased investment in epost, is uniquely positioned to enhance how Canadians connect within a digital economy and government.

Canadians are the most digitally engaged country on the planet, by almost 30 to 40 percent. And yet Canada remains somewhat of a third world e-commerce economy. Though governments are looking to increase consumer e-service capabilities, several barriers exist.

First, in a period of fiscal austerity, governments lack the investment required to build and maintain the infrastructure. Second, consumer privacy is pivotal and yet governments expose sensitive consumer data by allowing it to travel across the border via email. And finally, identity authentication and address validation are central to protecting government, business and consumers from potential fraudulent activity online.  

The public sector’s response to these key issues will shape Canada’s economy for years to come.

As Canada’s only electronic bill consolidation solution, Canada Post’s epost has over 7.5 million registered Canadians since its inception in 2001. The only external platform sitting behind all major banks’ firewall, epost delivers 250 different bills, paystubs and T4s as well as many other essential documents from 100 businesses and government bodies – safely, securely and while ensuring the individual’s data remains privacy protected within Canada’s borders.

Epost’s evolution involves becoming Canada’s largest household management platform, connecting Canadians with a broader range of household and personal management solutions that will save them time and money.

Already, 17 municipal governments across the country participate within epost through utility or property tax e-billing. But through further integration and authentication, there is potential for other applications like notifications, forms, fulfillment, tracking and identity management. The City of Toronto most recently approved epost for water, taxes and payroll services, and is broadening e-accessibility across its entire suite of services to cost-effectively deepen its digital connection with its citizens.

As a crown corporation, Canada Post recognizes the key challenges government faces – high infrastructure, technology and human resource costs related to e-service initiation, adoption and maintenance amid more stringent fiscal realities. Over the last several years epost has invested in enhancing its infrastructure to support the onboarding of government services within the epost platform.

For example, in Ontario alone a very small percentage of license stickers are renewed online, while everyone else chooses to stand in line. Other jurisdictions have similarly low penetration. If license sticker renewal (or other services) was managed online through epost, Ontarians could save valuable time while government could accelerate e-adoption and further reduce its costs, deploying the capital funds to other government priorities.

In the near future, epost will evolve to include digital authentication and address validation, effectively matching the individual’s virtual presence with their physical address. It is being launched this fall in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region and set to roll out nationally next year. By attaching the virtual presence within epost with a validated physical address, business and government can now validate that an individual isn’t just who they say they are, but the address they claim is a valid address at which they reside or are associated with. This authentication capability can stand alone under the epost platform with one login and password or can become part of a federated identity ecosystem.  

Supported by its vast physical retail network of over 6,500 locations, Canada Post is developing a complementary dual network to support the physical and digital needs of Canadians and government. Should an individual be unwilling or unable to authenticate online they can then be forwarded to any one of Canada Post’s retail locations for in-person proofing.

The functionality being deployed in Kitchener-Waterloo could further support a government’s push to accelerate the deployment of identify management services such as what is taking place in British Columbia. The combination of the address validation with identity management provides a more complete and secure authentication path. And the combination of epost and a diverse physical retail network offers a broad and complementary channel by which to accelerate the deployment of the dual card format.

Epost’s evolution to a technology platform with scale, secure government connections and address authentication provides a unique opportunity to partner with government to advance a new agenda, one which enables Canada’s digital economy to rival other countries and creates the foundation for future prosperity for citizens.


Kerry Munro is group president of the Digital Delivery Network at Canada Post.

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