Aug 102016
 
EZ Pass lane

I live in the Central Valley of California now and we have no toll roads or bridges; but when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had to pay a toll every time I crossed the Bay Bridge or San Mateo Bridge. If you’re familiar with toll booths, sixteen U.S. states have several lanes where you can pay cash, and a few lanes where you can speed right through, paying with something called EZ Pass.

EZ Pass uses the same technology in all states where it operates. You sign up and they give you an RFID transponder that you keep in your car, ideally mounting it above the dash or inside the windshield. It comes preloaded with funds. You can buy it at various pharmacies and grocery stores. Then, when you pass through the toll booth in an EZ Pass lane, you don’t even have to slow down. The transponder sends a signal to the toll booth and the toll payment is deducted automatically from your account.

You can also link your credit card to your EZ Pass account so that when your account drops below a preset amount – typically $20 – it automatically gets replenished from your credit card.

Third Party Payment Services for EZ Pass

There are also online payments services and online bank accounts where you sign up, create an account, and can pay your EZ Pass tolls from there. In Maryland, for example, thousands of drivers use an online service called Doxo to pay their EZ Pass.

It’s important to be aware with such services that there can be a delay between the time you make the payment, and the time it goes through to EZ Pass. This delay can be as long as several days. If you go through the toll, then add money to pay for it through a third party service it will be too late, and you’ll get fined.

Then why use such services? Many people like them because they allow you to pay online (rather than going to a retail location) and to track all your bills in one place. Just be careful to have funds deposited at least a week in advance before trying to use these online bill pay services for EZ Pass tolls.

4.33 avg. rating (81% score) - 3 votes
May 112015
 
Power lines

Automatic bill payers consume more electricity.

The Wall Street Journal reports that electricity consumers who use automatic bill pay actually use more electricity each month, and pay higher bills. Dr. Steven Sexton, an economics professor at Duke University, conducted a huge study in which he evaluated the electricity bills of Santee Cooper customers (a South Carolina electric company) over sixteen years. He found that automatic bill payers use between 4% and 9% more energy each month.

Automatic bill pay is safe and obviously convenient. Millions of people pay their electric bills automatically each month, sight unseen. And therein lies the problem. With regular snail-mail bills, you have to open them up, look at the bill amount, and write a check. You know how much you pay each month. If the bill seems high, you might scrutinize your energy usage and work on bringing it down.

With automatic bill pay you don’t even see the bill, so you’re not in tune with how much you’re paying each month. You end up using more each month because you’re simply not aware.

Sexton found that the biggest rise in consumption with automatic bill payers came with new customers and commercial users. The new customers are presumably young and not financially experienced.

I’m not suggesting that automatic bill pay consumers go back to using dead trees (paper bills). But you should make it a point to look at your bill online and review your electricity consumption. You might save more than a few dollars each month.

3.11 avg. rating (62% score) - 19 votes
Dec 082014
 

Smartphones have become powerful devices that enable users to do more and more with them. Each day, new abilities are heard of and each day, expectations of the users increase. In the bill payments space, a strong player can make use of this opportunity and grab the market. TIO MobilePay is striving to make this true with the launch of their mobile bill pay app.

The app is available on Android and iOS devices and has a simple and easy to use interface. It is a one-of-its-kind app in the United States that allows users to make expedited, same day and last minute payments using credit cards to thousands of billers. According to them, users can pay any bill with this app at affordable rates.

TIO MobilePayReminders can be set up, which prompt the app to send reminder emails, right on the phone. The app has bank level security and is bank independent. It has personal finance management tools as well. Over 6000 billers across the US are supported, which covers most billers in the country. Unlimited number of billers can be added and multiple bills can be paid with the app.

It is so easy to pay a bill with TIO MobilePay; it is a 3 step process, which involves selecting a bill, entering the amount and verifying/finalizing the payment. At present, payment methods supported are Visa and MasterCard debit/credit cards. There are plans to include PayPal, direct debit and many more methods. Bills paid are processed in real time and information is stored securely.

Payment history is stored in the app, as well as in the user’s email, helping them manage their money efficiently. Prices are between $2.99 and $3.99 for regular payments, that take anywhere between 1 and 4 business days to complete. For same day payments, prices are between $5.99 and $6.99. Users who want to try this service can download the app from Google Play or iPhone App Store.

2.87 avg. rating (57% score) - 15 votes
Dec 072014
 

When you logon to the website of SimpleBills, you will see that it has options to pay bills for roommates or parents in the main page. The reason this company began was sharing bills, a bill combining, splitting and paying service, primarily meant for students. Their main focus, their target market are people who share a common accommodation; in other words, roommates.

The challenge of dividing bills, including utility bills is made simple with their solution. Among the methods employed are timely reminders, creating accountability and timely communication with roommates and parents. They aim to make bill payment easier and convenient by offering this service.

Share Bills

Share Bills

Using this service, each roommate/participant pays only their portion of the bill to SimpleBills, though one bill with one due date is received; all utility bills are received as one bill with one due date. The payment of bills is done by SimpleBills, the participants have to pay to them to cover this payment. Payment options include online and mobile. Many university students have recommended this service, it surely deserves a trial at least.

So, no worrying about different due dates, sharing expenses and all other challenges roommates face. The roommate market is not just limited to universities, but also property management firms. SimpleBills have included them in their target market and have positioned themselves well there. Property managers can offer SimpleBills to their tenants

They are informed via multiple modes of communication including email, text and phone to notify of events such as non-payment of bills and so on. Interested persons can sign up for their service here and give it a try.

4.25 avg. rating (83% score) - 8 votes
Nov 222014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

TD Bank is known as America’s most convenient bank and it tries to be just that by offering services that make the lives of their customers convenient. One of the problems Americans face is the payment of bills; it is one of the most inconvenient tasks in their lives. TD Bank has made it easy and convenient by offering a 3 step bill pay service.

To pay a bill, a customer just has to select the company or biller to pay the bill to and then enter the billing information before choosing the amount and time of payment. Any company or individual in the US can be paid with this service and this can be done anytime on any day except weekends and national holidays.

TD Bank Bill PayThey also guarantee on time payments, provided it has been scheduled accordingly. The earliest date the biller can receive the payment is displayed, which can be changed to schedule a future payments. E-bills can also be received, which is a move to save paper and do some good to the environment. Billers with a US address can be added at any time, to make payments to them.

It should however be noted that not all TD Bank accounts have this service available. It is available only with checking and money market accounts. Payments are completed either electronically or using paper checks. Electronic payments are completed just the next business day, paper checks typically take 4 business days.

Payments can be scheduled up to 1 year in advance, while the minimum number of days it can be scheduled varies from biller to biller. Typically, it is between 1 and 4 days. Notifications can also be setup to know when a bill is due. Same day payments are currently not supported, but they may offer it in the future.

Like I said above, one has to be a checking account or money market account holder with TD Bank to be able to use this service. Interested individuals can enquire further at 1-800-493-7562.

3.20 avg. rating (64% score) - 5 votes
Nov 192014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

In India, online bill pay still has a long way to go; not many people use the service, they either visit the service provider directly or visit a place where they can pay all bills. In few cities in India, there are citizen service centers, which accept all utility bills and few other bills as well. For example, in Bangalore, there is Bangalore One, a one-stop bill pay location for all household bills.

There are few similar organizations that enable bill payments at their premises, but online payment is very rare in the Indian society. Perhaps they will take time to adopt the electronic payment option or they haven’t managed to trust the electronic security.

OxigenAmong a very few online bill pay services is Oxicash (Oxigen Bill Pay), that is trying to revolutionize payments in India. They have an e-wallet product that enables money transfer as well. With Oxicash, users can pay many bills online. They use BillDesk’s framework to make this happen; they have a page of their own on BillDesk’s domain.

Bill payments include utility bills, fixed line and mobile bills, subscriptions and donations. The bill pay page can be accessed here. Donations are accepted for major NGOs including CRY, SAVE, PETA, Childline, WISE and Cancer Patients’ Association. Subscription payments are available for Reader’s Digest and India Today, while Insurance Premiums are accepted for ICICI PruLife and PNB Metlife.

Utility payments include electricity, gas and telephone bills and has very limited list of billers including Reliance Energy, BSES (Delhi), Mahanagar Gas (Mumbai), Airtel, MTNL, etc.

This facility is available, however, only to Oxigen Wallet users; a new wallet account can be opened from here. Immediate bill payments or same day payments are not supported; time taken is between 3 and 4 business days, so the payment should be scheduled accordingly.

3.50 avg. rating (69% score) - 4 votes
Nov 082014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

How would money transfer companies look at bill pay? Just as another category in money transfer. Yes, the trend of cross-border bill pay is starting and companies are looking to grab the opportunity and become the pioneers. We learnt that such a company called BlueKite that was acquired by Xoom Corporation, then we learnt about Money Move IT, both of which offer overseas bill pay.

XoomIn this article, we will learn further about Xoom’s plans after acquiring BlueKite. As planned, they will offer bill pay services to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. They are launching it this November with an aim to broaden their relationship with their customers. Connecting the latter to their families better is a great step to gain customer loyalty, and for long term. This is what they are looking forward to, from this service.

They have proven to be among the fastest and the most reliable money transfer services in the United States, the new service makes them further better. They have now declared the pricing for the bills paid by using this service; it is $2.99 per bill paid, in addition to a foreign exchange fee. Considering that it is cross-border payment, this fee is reasonable.

Xoom customers will also get real time account balances and pay one or multiple bills instantly. Xoom has huge expectations from this product and so do their customers. They must work on adding more countries to the supported countries list. Additionally, in order to expand, they must introduced their services in other countries as well where people can send money from.

5.00 avg. rating (83% score) - 1 vote
Oct 202014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

With the advancement of technology in the bill payment space, developing nations have begun joining the race in the introduction of bill payment technology. India is a developing country, where this is true. The central bank of India, RBI (reserve Bank of India) has plans to centralize bill pay solutions.

The payment process in bill pay would be instituted through a Government Internal Revenue Order (GIRO) based system and all the bills would be payable online. The bills include utility bills, academic fees, insurance premiums and all types of bills. And the payment is made directly to the billers. Typically, users need to either make individual accounts for different billers or set up various methods of payment. Here, one account is all it takes to complete the payment to all the relevant billers.

People Waiting in a Queue to Pay BillsThis makes the process easy and convenient for the billers, as well as the users, reducing the number of accounts they have to manage. To make this project true, RBI is setting up Bharat Bill Payment Services, a nonprofit organization that would list all the billers in one place and enable users to pay all the bills from anywhere in the country. This way, the said entity would have connectivity to all the billers in the country. For the fact that it is an initiative of the central bank of the country, this becomes easier.

Bills can either be paid online or by visiting one of the operating units established under Bharat Bill Payment Services. One aim of the establishment of this service is paperless and hassle-free billing solutions.

It is expected that this service will make the lives of Indians convenient and the use of paper will also reduce, where bills are concerned. This is even truer due to the involvement of the central bank. Apart from avoiding long queues, users can manage their bills from one place. RBI is aiming to create a single window for payment of all bills.

3.00 avg. rating (61% score) - 4 votes
Oct 182014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

In my last post about bill pay service offered by IndusInd Bank of India, I had mentioned that they have partnered with BillDesk to offer bill pay service through online banking system. They offer solutions for businesses to offer a comprehensive bill presentment, payment and management solutions. But that is only one of the solutions they offer.

They offer bill pay solutions to individuals as well. Anyone in India can register for the service and they can start using it. This is the link to begin the registration process. Their website is a simple one, but is secure and convenient to use. They support many billers in 23 major Indian cities. They define billers as those companies that issue ebills and accept payments online.

BillDeskApart from these, there are payees, which are defined by them as those companies that do not issue ebills, but accept payments through BillDesk. An example for the latter is insurance premium payment. The biller list and the payee list can be referred to, to find out which of the companies are supported and which of the companies issue bills online.

To use the service, one has to login and add the required billers to pay the bills to. Once billers and payees have been added, payment instructions have to be provided, after which the bill is processed and the payer receives a confirmation. To try the service and know better, how things work, readers are advised to access this demo.

The benefits that BillDesk promises to offer include convenience, flexibility, effective tracking and savings in terms of time and money. Interestingly, the service is available free of cost for individuals. They make money from bill presentment and bill management solutions offered to businesses.

3.00 avg. rating (61% score) - 3 votes
Oct 182014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Residents of India have many options to pay bills on time. Most of them resort to visiting one-stop bill pay destinations to pay their bills. Here, they again have to wait it queues at wait for their turns. The load is however reduced by the number of clerks processing the bills. Recently, new solutions have been introduced to make bill pay easier and convenient.

Online bill pay has been introduced by banks to enable account holders to pay bills conveniently. We will discuss the best of them which are preferred by Indians. IndusInd Bank is among the leading banks in the country and has tied up with billers in major cities to process their bills for their customers, who happen to be account holders at the bank.

IndusNetUsers can pay most bills including telephone, electricity, mobile phone, television and others. Presently, billers in 23 cities in India are supported. All supported billers, by name, can be accessed here. The service is available for free for IndusNet users, which is the online banking service offered by the bank. For on-time payments, users must schedule them at least 2 days before the due date.

IndusInd Bank is offering this service in association with Bill Desk, about which, we will discuss in the next article. Like any other bill pay service offered by banks, this service also requires that the users be their customers. They just add a feature to their already existing online banking service, to enable customers to pay bills and make their lives easier.

Users can register for an IndusNet Account by using the links here; they can also access the online demo to know more about IndusNet.

5.00 avg. rating (83% score) - 1 vote
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