The marginal cost of sending a fax is, arguably, about one cent. (1.8c/min VOIP cost, 30 seconds to send, some electricity). Most faxes will be one page anyway, so the profit margin is a nice 10000%.
Finding a working fax machine if you don't have one sitting around all set up is a hassle on the order of 10 minutes to an hour, and likely to end up with a visit to a UPS/FedEx/Staples or the equivalent thereof, where they will charge you $1.50-$2 for the first page anyway.
Find a cheap old technology that people want to use infrequently and are therefore willing to pay a relatively large markup for convenience. Let's see... appointmentreminder already does voice calls for reminders, but how about automated, customized calls? Get a good speech synthesis app and let people send and schedule calls that read out whatever they want to type. That's probably worth a buck to people who only want to do it once, and then you can offer a subscription rate for frequent flyers.
EDIT: there’s definitely something to this thesis. In the case of faxes, they are an interface to older entities (government agencies and some businesses) and the unit cost for any individual to find a fax machine is relatively high. In addition, many fax services are venture funded and require subscriptions, when that isn’t really what many individuals need.
PayPal's micropayments price is 5% + $.05 and is designed for merchants who process low-value transactions (typically under $10 in value). The micropayments rate is available to all merchants and in all countries where Business accounts are available. If you sign up for micropayments, you will be charged the micropayments rate on all transactions regardless of payment size.
From PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/us/selfhelp/article/what-are-micropay...
The first four pages are $1, which I'm assuming is partly to cover that issue of their charge getting eaten up by payment fees.
The top payment processors all have a fixed component to their fees - we just absorb it into our pricing structure.
Do you have your J2 situation sorted out yet? They're suit-happy.
> J2 Global operates numerous, nearly identical websites such as eFax.com, RapidFax.com, MyFax.com, MetroFax.com, SmartFax.com and Fax.com that all offer the same internet fax services. As a result, J2 effectively controls over 90% of the internet fax market.
> ... the methodology of litigation that J2 employs has allowed for them to sue any competitors for infringing on a patent held by J2 over all faxes using an email, regardless of whether they are using PHP, SMTP or .NET gateways in the emails.
Source: Used to work for, then own a fax brand many years ago.
Out of curiosity what’s your use case? There are lots of subscription fax services out there (efax and hellofax are 2 popular ones)
Other than that you can do things in-house with Hylafax and either hardware (e.g. Mainpine boards, expensive but they Just Work) or software solutions. My experience with software solutions (IAXModem with Hylafax and Asterisk) has been that speeds and reliability are sometimes poor, at least compared to good hardware solutions or physical fax machines supporting 33.6k.
And 9600 is usually required to get faxes through to a lot of places, because everyone is trying to do fax over VoIP, and that is generally tough sledding, if it's possible at all.
Traditionally, transmitting a fax was just making a telephone call so it was vulnerable in the same way that any telephone call was to wiretapping. With fax services as exist today, you're basically emailing them a PDF and they're then sending that as a fax to someone's phone number. (Or the reverse.) So there's no real security other than that provided by the telephone network and the service's internal controls.
I had efax for a number of years but I believe they eliminated the free incoming fax number for free accounts and I haven't actually needed to send or receive an actual fax (as opposed to a scanned document) in years.
I work for a business that could use a low-volume faxing service, but the price needs to come down an order of magnitude.
I do hope you find a service that fits your need, but this is very likely not intending to be it.
A business phone line ($100/month or less -- crap tier VOIP lines work fine for faxes) and a PCI fax/modem (<$50) should let you send hundreds of pages an hour with no paper or other consumables. It certainly seems like a send-only service that charges $0.01/page is more than viable. Even averaging only a page a minute would be $15/day in revenue, a huge profit margin.
I don’t care how much you can buy one for, I’d pay a premium to not have to have one or set it up.
Had a similar idea/pain point and I built a similar tool for sending postal mail - http://simplepostal.com/
Our goal is to provide devs that have mission-critical applications with the most reliable and redundant faxing capabilities. (If you've dealt with faxing, you know it's annoyingly finicky.)
Re: We're fans of Twilio, but our approach to solving this problem is significantly different.
(I'm answering the second question above, not necessarily the first)
edit: I guess I was answering both :)
Edit: I guess the phone number makes faxrocket a better deal for low usage, but phaxio becomes much cheaper quickly.
Before working in an office, when I needed to fax a document I would have to drive to a Staples/Post Office or find a friend with an old fax machine.
I sent my last fax twelve years ago, and considered that a retrograde outlier. Some agency requiring a signed piece of paper, not accepting my emailed pdf with a pasted in scrawl, but all roses and thank you, sir when same document uploaded to a random webservice and faxed. I do occasionally give up on Humanity.
Even if we get them set up with some form of HIPAA-compliant secure file transfer service I'm not sure how well it'll work because while I can train and work with the people at that practice, there's not much I can do about the people sending them charts. Best thing I've come up with so far as a quick fix is setting up inbound faxing on their VOIP system with a pool of inbound lines - speed is slower, but they can receive multiple at once and none of them are tying up the main fax line for 3+ hours at a time.
(Well to be fair I could have posted my offer, or persuaded somebody to drive me to the realtors office, but both would have taken more time - and time is important when multiple people are bidding upon a property.)
Also, how does your pricing vary by country, if at all? I know some providers (e.g. HelloFax) charge WAY more for our target country (Japan).
Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with what you'd like to see from an API? Haven't yet looked at building one, but happy to either see what we can do or point you at the right place if there's a better option.
Twilio charges are generally under $0.25/min for outbound phone calls in the U.S. and $0.01/page for programmable fax. If you choose not to opt for Twilio Fax API, lambda function to encode and send the fax is a fraction of a penny instead. So there's probably some room for profit margin either way.
Would you mind sharing how you chose which countries to support?
HN doesn't have an anti-commercial position like other forums, but competition on Show HNs is heavily frowned upon, since we're supposed to be celebrating the user's initiative and effort, not just look at a product.