This article originally appeared in the January/February, 2018 issue
of Mailing Systems Technology.
With 2018 already here, it is important to spend some time planning and preparing for changes that will impact your business in the new year. One of these changes will be the Postal Service’s rollout of its new Enterprise Payment System (EPS). As with many of the new Postal Service systems, there will be several new acronyms that the mailing industry will need to become familiar with as EPS is formally rolled out. EPS will require every business mailer to have an Enterprise Payment Account (EPA). If your business has PO Boxes, you may have already had some exposure to the first phase of EPS, which is being referred to as EPOBOL (Electronic PO Boxes Online). EPOBOL allows mailers to renew, open, and close their PO Boxes online. EPOBOL is currently available for use, and the Postal Service is encouraging all business mailers with PO Boxes to begin using it.
The bigger EPS change for business mailers will be coming later in 2018. The Postal Service is currently pilot testing expanded payment capabilities for domestic, commercial, and international mail products and services with some mailers. These will include postage statement processing for all bulk mailings currently being submitted to PostalOne! using Mail.dat, Mail.xml, or the Postage Statement Wizard. It will also support BMEU (Bulk Mail Entry Unit) hard copy postage statements and other services such as Address Change Service (ACS).
There are several steps involved to enroll, such as receiving an invitation code and creating and configuring your EPA, so it would be a good idea to figure out early in the process who in your company will be taking the lead in getting all of this set up. There are many details that will likely require collaboration and testing with the financial side of your business to ensure user roles have been appropriately assigned.
Each mailer or mail service provider will be migrated to a single EPA in which all postal transactions will occur. This will greatly simplify the postage payment process for mailers. EPA will allow mailers the ability to setup a trust account or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit. The trust account allows mailers to direct deposit funds into their Postal Service account for mailing transactions. ACH debit allows the Postal Service to withdraw payment transactions directly from mailer bank accounts.
Once EPS has been fully tested, the Postal Service will require all mailers to migrate to EPS and the current CAPS will be officially discontinued. The timeframe and length of the transition window has not yet been announced. However, you can expect the official start of the transition to be announced sometime in 2018, and the transition window could be fairly short. The migration from CAPS to EPS does not have to be done all at once. The transition can be done a single permit or CAPS account at a time. Mailers with multiple CAPS accounts and/or permits will be able to mix the use of both CAPS and EPS for postal transactions as they transition, but eventually they will all be connected to their single EPA. Once mailers have their new EPA number, they can start using it in the electronic documentation that is sent to PostalOne!. If anyone is interested in helping with the pilot testing of all the various mailing transaction scenarios, they are encouraged to contact the Postal Service at PaymentModernizationMigrationTeam@usps.gov.
Ultimately, there is going to be a number of new benefits that will come with the migration to EPS. These include being able to make deposits at any retail location, and future enhancements will include being able to make deposits via electronic check capture. To maximize your benefits, it is highly encouraged to begin planning the changes to your business now. For additional information on the details involved in the migration, use the Postal Service PostalPro site to access the Payment Modernization Overview document.
Bob Schimek is Senior Director of Postal Affairs at Quadient.