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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: ECT News 2001-06-14 19:10:16
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Somewhere in the zone between idea and execution, e-commerce suffers from a case of
diminished returns. Take online bill payment, for example.

At the new-idea stage, online billing was going to let every business streamline their
operations and offer customers a convenient way to "pay as they go." However, the
convenience factor of online bill-pay got desperately lost. Moreover, a number of variables
jumped in the way and discouraged consumers from climbing aboard the online billing train.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Kasaven 2002-10-16 11:03:21 In reply to: ECT News
I am the owner developer of two online bill paying services. I am of the opinion that companies using online billing should bear the cost of the transaction. Two main reasons, they don't have the paper bill cost anymore and convenience/service to their loyal customers.
My sites are designed with some thought behind them. The service MUST be FREE to customers/consumers and a single point to pay all their bills is a MUST. Both my services offer this and much more.
The rules for this message board prevent me from specifying my site names, but if more info is needed, I will be happy to provide.
Kasaven Naicker C.E.O.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Cathy 2001-06-21 10:43:41 In reply to: ECT News
I have been using online bill payment for years and recommend it to everyone who needs to get on with their life and keep their financial house in control.

I find electronic trans much much safer, last year I had a neighbor get their bills stolen out of their mailbox and the amount of hassle, late fees and fraudulent use of their checking account by Monday morning when the bank opened was amazing. Paper checks are dangerous! Don't give yours to anybody but an accredited financial institution!

The only time I ever had to track down a late posting payment it was the merchant's slow processing, and my service went to bat for me!
Think about it, you now have a respected 3rd party with proof that the check is in the mail!

So think about that respect part and pick a good service, not a fly-by-night dot-com, and get on with life.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Tony 2001-06-17 17:17:08 In reply to: ECT News
I keep wondering why ecommerce times doesn't follow some emerging topics more than they do. Billing is a good example. I found out to set up our company to do online billing would initially cost us up to about $75,000. We're a four-year-old company with a small staff. While we're not exactly operating on a shoestring, the funds have to be carefully managed. Online billing will have to wait. And judging by what everyone says here, it seems nobody's that interested in it anyway, from a customer standpoint.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: erik lee 2001-06-15 22:05:28 In reply to: ECT News
folks- you are one lucky bunch of bankers in the states. here in singapore, all e-bills payment are free of charge.
all the banks here do not levy a charge for the use of the service
would love to charge - not $6 usd but perhaps $2 singapore dollars would do for using the service every month.

even with the FOC thing, the take up rate is slow

any one has got any ideas to share on how we can start charging fee on our customers.

the "sneaky way" of imposing fee will not do and and may result in a "mutiny"

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Trent 2001-06-15 17:27:39 In reply to: ECT News
I tried a certain credit card company's telephone bill payment a couple of months ago -- just to pay that company. It cost me $4.95 to pay by check. That was bad enough. This week I called up, after checking the web site and sighing at the extensive set-up required to make one payment a month. Well, the phone charge had DOUBLED - it's now an incredible $9.95. No thanks. If that's their policy for telephone payments -- which saves them money! -- why won't they jack up the price for online payment whenever they want -- after you're hooked? No thanks.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Tom 2001-06-15 16:14:35 In reply to: ECT News
People have to do their research before they jump into an online bill pay situation. I for example searched for a while before making a decision to switch my checking account from a local branch to Now, not only do I get an interest bearing checking account, but I also get 100% free online bill pay (they put their brand on a checkfree back end). Netbank has been absolutely wonderful! The only thing I don't love about online bill pay is the bill pay service takes the cash from your account the day you ask to pay the bill, and it doesn't reach the destination for between 2 and 5 days. If I wrote a paper check (which I still have the option to do), I can float the balance a few more days, and get more interest on the account. Oh well... they have to pay for the "free bill pay" somehow!

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Jesse 2001-06-16 21:13:55 In reply to: Tom
I tried it all. My conclusion: Stick with checks. No automatic transactions. No electronic transactions.
The reason: It works. Your bills gets paid when you expect them to be paid. Your account gets debited when you expect it to be debited. The occasional wayward bill or check problem gets resolved easily and politely.
My experience with on-line transactions: Financial institutions dont respect you or your money. You never know how many fees are tacked on. When you do, you are amazed at their audacity. The number of errors is incredible. None of them is in your favor. Customer service is bad. It takes 3-6 months of determination to get your money back. Somehow checks get much more respects than electrons. I will stick with them until on-line transactions are as safe and hassle free as paying by check.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Gail 2001-06-15 14:11:15 In reply to: ECT News
Banks/billers are from Venus and customers are from Mars ... Customers think that automated channels are cheaper than branches ... that's not always so. Banks/billers think that customers value convenience enough to pay for it and that's not always so. Customers think it's a strange concept to be charged for access to something they already own.

Banks/billers think that customers should value security and transaction processing but have not figured out how to charge for it in a way that the customer will equate with value.

Will online bill payment really help the biller drive down A/R faster? Doubt it - I can schedule payments for the due date. Will it reduce collections? Doubt it - anyone who's going to pay online would likely pay anyway. Will it automate their internal payment processing enough to lay off enough staff to offset cost of systems and maintenance? Doubt it. Will it reduce cost of mailing bills - sure! Enough? Is this the business justification? Then why are customers paying for it?

Where is the optimum price:sales ratio? Nobody knows yet - the pendulum is still swinging and will probably find a balance depending on what the competition charges. Will enough customers come online at that magic price to justify online billing?

Seems to me that there are more unknowns than knowns and that this is not a game for the faint of heart.

Re: Online Billing: Clever Idea, Lousy Deal
Posted by: Denizhan Baytu 2001-06-22 17:54:03 In reply to: Gail
There are highly integrated software packages which can meet all of the requirements set out in Gail's email -- and the right blend of CRM with financial data mining means that 'payback' is merely a relatively orthodox manner for justifying the cost outlay. Most cost saving systems should pay back within 3-6 months as a very broad thumb rule, but I would suggest that Value is the key -- and hence the reason why the consumer may not be so keen to latch on -- and why should they if they can't see the VALUE. However, this is not to say that certain analytical B2B applications (especially where third party financial services data is required) fall under the same tarpaulin -- hence value and value capture (rather than simple cost savings) are the key drivers.
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