Conventional email set to take a tumble

US internet messaging product vendor Tumbleweed has brought email's secure and possibly fatal alternative to Australia, setting up Asia-Pacific headquarters in Sydney.

According to CEO Jeffrey Smith, Tumbleweed already has offices in Europe and Tokyo, but was driven to open headquarters for Australia, New Zealand and Asia by high customer demand.

Tumbleweed provides businesses with secure internet-based outgoing messaging technology. "E-businesses have really focused on inbound communication, with infrastructure, with website and with ecommerce. They haven't till now thought so much about outbound communication," Smith said.

"Now we're seeing an increasing proportion of these businesses wanting to take advantage of messaging to proactively communicate with their customers."

Smith said his company currently included American Express among its list of clients. Using Tumbleweed technology, American Express's Protected Mailbox service enabled the credit card giant to "proactively" communicate secure, personalised messages to 1.4 million of its worldwide cardholders, Smith said.

Although the pool of American Express cardholders taking advantage of Tumbleweed technology includes Australian customers, the company does not expect to have finalised any local business deals for at least three weeks.

Other Tumbleweed customers include Chase Manhattan, Merrill Lynch and the US and French postal services.

Smith said the interfaces of messages that Tumbleweed's clients sent to their customers were deceptively simple. His company had solved the "secure messaging problem" by incorporating 128-bit encryption, SSL, digital certification and user PIN codes, he said.

"If I sent you a statement from American Express, you'd receive what looks like an HTML file in your email box. But it's not an HTML file, it's a secure envelope," he explained.

With 250 employees worldwide, Tumbleweed is a $US3 billion Nasdaq-listed company. Smith said his company's revenues were currently growing 50 per cent "quarter on quarter".

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