Aug 102009

In a blurb on, Michael Kanellos points out the “green” aspect of online bill payment. He writes: – how did they ever secure that name? – has raised $8.5 million in another round of financing for its online bill payment system for companies.The company was founded by Rene Lacerte, who sold PayCycle, an employee compensation service, to Intuit.

How is it green? Paper and transportation. Paperless bill payment can save 7.5 pounds of paper and 71 gallons of water, when you look at the entire supply chain. It also can cut 297 pounds of greenhouse gases. Considering that the bulk of a bill gets thrown in the garbage (An coupon for a Dale Earnhardt Memorial Grandfather Clock in my monthly Chevron bill, anyone?) there’s not a lot of reasons not to go paperless.Paperless transactions, of course, require servers and electrical power, but the balance likely favors paperless in most jurisdictions.

In the comments a reader makes this objection:

Carl Hage 08/5/09 3:33 PMThe problem for me with online bill pay is that you can’t get a bill via email. You get an email that says you should login to a web site, then “download” and/or print your statement. If you don’t download within 6 months, it’s erased, in many cases. Typically, these web sites are horribly painful to use, and login might take a minute or more of clashing through menus before getting a statement. All I want an an emailed PDF or even better—text file, but not a single company can do this (except my web service provider). I would use online billing, but it’s so painful, I use paper.

I see his point. I like to have paper copies of my bank statements for tax purposes (it just makes it easier to calculate at tax time), so even though I use paperless online banking, at the end of the year I go to the website and print out copies of the statements. Does that defeat the purpose? On the other hand I don’t get all the junk fillers that sometimes come with mailed statements, and I don’t have to throw away envelopes.

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