Safer, cheaper and faster than FedEx. That's how NetDox, Inc., a firm founded last January to deliver sensitive electronic business documents, describes itself. Analysts assert that claim has merit. "NetDox has a reliable and secure infrastructure to send documents, backed by insurance of up to $50,000 for each document," says IDC research manager Mark Levitt.

A joint venture of Deloitte & Touche LLP and Chicago's Thurston Group, a private merchant bank, NetDox delivers financial and legal documents and other confidential data over the Internet. Before sending data, NetDox secures it using high-level encryption technology. Deerfield, IL-based NetDox is the only company to be granted a federal license to use 128-bit encryption technology for general purposes. When the document arrives, recipients are asked to provide an electronic "signature."

Similar to the way Fedex supplies packaging material, NetDox provides users with free software to use the service. Customers pay on a per transaction basis: $5.35 for domestic delivery and double that for international destinations, according to NetDox vice chairman Thomas Friedman.

Companies in financial, healthcare and legal industries have signed up to use the service. But Levitt points out that "NetDox's challenge is to educate customers on why they should use electronic delivery (rather than) overnight service." W.Royal

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