Feb 252014

By Mohammed Waseem

With more and more companies coming up with bill payment services, Americans have a wide range of options to choose from. In order to have the competitive advantage, every company tries to do things differently or innovates. One of the options Americans have for bill payment is Quicken Bill Pay, which is an online bill pay service that works with Quicken Personal Finance Software (a desktop software for personal finance management), although the service can work independent of the software. The bill payment services they offer are provided by Metavante Payment Services.

With Quicken, users can receive, view and pay bills online. They can receive email notifications when the bills arrive, view the bills with complete details and pay the bills. The payment details are automatically transferred to the user’s Quicken personal finance software if they use one.

Quicken Bill PayAutomatic payment can also be setup for bills such as utilities, even up to one year in advance. They charge a monthly fee of $9.95 per month, after 1 free month. They guarantee that bills will be paid on time, failing which, they would offer $50 for each bill paid late. Payments can be made from up to 10 different bank accounts. The fee includes 20 payments per month, after which, $2.49 is charged for each additional 5 payments.

Quicken Bill Pay does not have the feature which notifies the user for upcoming bills, so it is upon them to keep checking periodically in order to avoid missing a due date. In order to pay bills, a user has to create an account with Quicken, login to the online account, add a payee, and schedule a payment up to one year in advance and setup automatic payments for applicable bills. Other than this, users can also transfer money to anyone in the US at any time.

Users can pay the bills either from within the Quicken personal finance software or online on their website. Many payments can be scheduled in as few as 2 business days, which gives the users greater flexibility in paying their bills. Though 10 accounts can be used to make payment from, it may be difficult to keep track of the money.

Feb 232014

By Mohammed Waseem

Banks offering bill payment services is not something new, but if a bank’s bill payment service is compared with independent bill payment services, it is something outstanding. American multinational banking corporation, Wells Fargo offers an exceptional bill pay service which can be accessed online on their website.

The bank’s customers can use the bill pay service to pay almost every company or individual in the US. So, the users can pay anyone they would normally pay by check. The service is offered free of monthly or transactional charge for the customers who have a Wells Fargo checking account. Customers with personal accounts can also avail this service for free for the first two months (for new customers) and can keep it free if they maintain a combined minimum balance of $5,000 at all times. For users who do not have a checking account, nor maintain the minimum balance, a monthly charge for $3.00 is applicable.

Wells Fargo Bills Pay OverviewBill pay can also be availed for free by customers with business accounts. Business Bill Pay is free of monthly charges if the customers have an eligible account. In case they do not have an eligible account, they are required to maintain a minimum balance of $25,000 at all times. For the users who do not have a qualifying account or do not maintain the minimum balance, a monthly charge of $6.00 is applicable.

In both cases above, the fee is for 25 payments transactions per month. Every additional bill paid is charged at $0.40. For same day payments, extra charges maybe applicable, even for the checking account holders and the service is available for a selection of payees; the fee differs for every payee. Additionally, if the customers use Wells Fargo credit cards, fees and interest will be applicable, regardless of whether monthly fees are paid or not.

In order to add new payees, the customer has to login to Wells Fargo Online, select the Bill Pay tab and enter the Payee’s name and ZIP code under Add New Payee on the Overview screen and then select the Payee from the online directory or enter the details manually. Once the payee has been added, payments can be scheduled or periodic payments can be setup for automatic payments. Wells Fargo payees are automatically added to the list of payees.

E-bills can also be received from hundreds of local and national companies directly to the online account, without having to receive paper bills.

Wells Fargo Bill Pay has been ranked #3 in TopTenReviews with a rating of 8.75 on 10 for all the services such as bill management, payment features, ease of setup, customer support, etc.

Feb 202014

By Mohammed Waseem

Many people consider it a pain to receive bills by mail and then pay each bill either over the counter or through their bank or on the websites of the service providers separately. In order to cater to this pain point, many companies introduced online bill pay for most service providers, all through one website. One company which offers a great bill management and payment service is PayTrust, which has been rated 10 on 10 in 2014 Bill Payment Services Comparison by TopTenReviews.

Payments for bills can be done on PayTrust website by signing up for an account. This service means that none of the users’ bills is sent to their mail. PayTrust completely eliminates paper bills, as all bills are received by PayTrust, scanned and displayed online in the user’s account. If the service PayTrust Bill Payproviders have electronic bill option, the e-bills are received directly on the PayTrust account. There is a monthly charge of $9.95 per month, after the first month of free usage. This charge is for 25 transactions every month, after which, every additional transaction is charged at $0.65, for which, receiving a bill and paying it are considered different transactions.

Bills can be paid manually, and automatic payment can be setup as well. Apart from this, payment for a bill can be made in full or in partial, as the user wants to. Up to 10 bank accounts can be added for paying through them. Payments cannot be made with credit cards.

If the service provider has not sent a bill or it has not been received by PayTrust, the user is notified. The user is also notified upon the arrival of a bill and when a bill becomes due. Amount is deducted from the user’s bank account, only when the payment is complete. The user is also sent a monthly summary of bills due and paid. Records are kept for 1 year for the users to refer to the bills whenever they want; this record is saved onto a CD and sent to the users for them to keep it safe and refer when the data has been deleted from their PayTrust account.

PayTrust is among the most trusted bill payment services for reasons such as its presence for over 10 years, great customer support, delivery of what is promised and the seriousness displayed concerning their customers.

Feb 152014

By Mohammed Waseem

Mobile payments are gradually becoming part of everyone’s life. I won’t be surprised if there are no currency bills in circulation after a few decades and all exchanges happen through mobile phones instantly, just as cash transactions happen today. Many companies offer mobile payment solutions, one of which is Mi-Pay, a UK based mobile payments solution provider for businesses.

Mobile Operation Businesses can use the services of Mi-Pay for Visa, MasterCard and SecureCode based payments and can also handle expired or changed cards. They can manage monthly bill payment, handset sales, SIM card sales and accessory sales with this service. Alternate payments using PayPal and payment reconciliation are also supported. With this service, payments can be processed in over 160 countries. It also includes management of mobile wallets offered by the operators.

Mi-PayMi-Pay also offers services for management of prepaid recharge by hosting the top-up services of the operator, fully indemnified and managed by the former. This reduces the operating costs of the businesses and also eliminates bad debts and fraud risks due to the fully indemnified services of Mi-Pay. They also claim to increase customer lifetime value and report that 88% improvements in customer lifetime value have provided several hundred Euros of extra revenue per prepaid customer.

For top-ups, Mi-Pay has services which are web-based, accessed through PCs automatic top-ups and Facebook-based top-ups; smartphone-based, accessed from mobile web and apps and from other services like IVR, SMS and USSD. Facebook top-up is something new and innovative; they have a Facebook app for top-ups without having to leave the Facebook environment, which has over 1 billion users worldwide.

Apart from solutions for mobile operators, they also offer Remittance and Transfer solutions for businesses. This includes mobile wallet based transfers, transfers on the web, etc. for person to person transfers, in which case, the money can be cashed out via the local ATM network or via another agent. They also have international remittance solutions and international airtime top-up solutions, which can generate extra revenue for businesses, as all the services are managed by Mi-Pay, once the users access the payment gateway, powered by Mi-Pay.

This is a good opportunity for those companies which look to save on operating costs by offering services through third parties. This can work well for non-core business services and can also be more profitable compared to the alternative of offering the services themselves.

Feb 142014

By Mohammed Waseem

We have heard and read about bill payment services which exist to make our lives easier by enabling online bill payment, payment of all bills at one place, paperless bill management and so on. In this article, I will talk about cross-border bill payment services offered by BlueKite.

First of all, what is cross-border bill pay? It is a bill payment service meant for migrants to pay for the services used by the families they have left behind. Launched in 2012, BlueKite aimed at changing the way payments are made and to improve the way people around the world pay for services and utilities. They began with the proprietary cross-border payment platform, allowing the people to accurately pay utility and service bills from abroad and thus take better care of their families back home.

BlueKite Bill PayMoney service stores were offered BlueKite’s platform to enable them to provide cross-border bill payment services to their customers. The stores charged a flat fee of $4.95 for the payment, which was split in the ratio or 3:2 between BlueKite and the stores. Their service helped the service providers increase collections and also solved the problems of families to pay bills locally. Their target market was immigrants to developed nations who have been traditionally sending money back home using money transfer services. They never intended to compete with money transfer services and in fact, claimed they were a complimentary service. They were like nothing in the market as they took bill payment to the next level. They integrated with many service providers in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Spain and few other places.

If you are wondering why the last paragraph reads in the past tense, it is because BlueKite is no longer an independent company, it is now a part of Xoom Corporation, which recently acquired the former for approximately $15 million in cash and equity. They aim at introducing mobile top-up and cross-border bill payment services which would be offered alongside their already existing money transfer service.

With the boom in the money transfer industry, every other company is coming up with an innovative service to give themselves a competitive advantage. With this acquisition, Xoom can reach new heights by enabling immigrants to pay the bills of their families, along with the money they regularly send through the service. The new services will be called “Xoom Bill Pay” and “Xoom Top Up”.

Development and augmentation is happening at the new development center at Guatemala City. The 30 BlueKite employees along with the CEO – Bobby Aitkenhead will now work under the banner of Xoom Corporation. Aitkenhead is now VP in charge of the Xoom Bill Pay and Xoom Top Up services, reporting to John Kunze, President and CEO, Xoom Corporation.

Feb 092014

By Mohammed Waseem

Residents of Canada now have a service which will make their life easier. And this time, it is not a random company, but a corporation which has a strong network and great customer service; it is Canada Post Corporation which is offering a bill management and payment service: epost.

For those individuals who like to keep moving along with the technology and want to make their lives simpler, save a lot of time and effort, Canada Post Corporation launched the epost service, which is meant to be a free digital mailbox for receiving and storing bills online instead of receiving paper bills at home by mail.

electronic postThe service presently supports over 100 billers/mailers including utility services, cable, phone, rent, taxes and much more. The service has over 7.5 million subscribers offering over 250 bills and statements from the mailers. Once a user signs up for an account at no cost, she has to find mailers and add the bills and statements, after which they can be viewed online, accessed from anywhere, and paid using a Visa card, pre-authorized debit and by linking a bank account with epost. Payments can be made using online banking websites or through epost website by credit cards or by electronic fund transfer. Once payment option has been selected, it takes just a few clicks to complete payment every time a bill arrives.

Reminders can be set for scheduling payments in order to avoid late fees. The service also enables viewing the payments calendar showing which bill is due in the coming month and the total amount owing, in order to enable better financial planning ahead. The calendar is found on every page for quick and convenient access. The layout is user-friendly and well organized, providing the users with organized filing cabinets with color coded folders accessible directly from the inbox. New folders can also be added to the cabinet with ease and bills can be sorted and printed. Every user is provided space to store bills and statements for up to 7 years. The reason is that Canada Revenue Agency recommends storage of the documents for six years. So, this would clear the paper bill clutter from your home and will free you of the responsibility of storing these documents.

The corporation has also partnered with a few banks in Canada which enables users to access epost from their bank. The list of banks and the names of the services are listed here. Apart from storing bills and statements, the service also allows users to store other important documents such as wills, insurance documents, photos, certificates, etc. in the online vault. There is also a newsstand powered by Zinio, which enables access to popular magazines and newspapers.

In order to attract the residents, they are offering a chance to win monthly prizes of $1000 to subscribers who have added at least two bills or statements to their epost account.

Feb 052014

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill payment has become very easy with the introduction of mobile payment systems. Many companies launched apps for smartphones, which enable bill payment and management right from the mobile device or tablet. Mobilligy, a mobile app for various platforms offers services ranging from bill management, reminders to paying the bills.

The app is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Kindle Fire. The service is available for free at no monthly charge. One can make payments and control bills from anywhere with payment options such as debit cards, credit cards and bank accounts. The process of bill payment once a biller is setup and a payment option is linked is so simple that it just takes a swipe and the payment happens.

Mobilligy Bill PayMobilligy’s interface shows which bills are due in the coming days and reminds the user before the due date, helping them avoid late fines. The app also has a bill calendar which shows upcoming bills. Automatic payment can also be setup for payment through the app. You can add your credit card, utility, auto loans, mortgage, etc. to the app and setup monthly payments. All you have to do is download the Mobilligy app and add all the billers. All due bills and recent payments made are found by Mobilligy and added to the app, users can then make payments. New billers would be added if a significant number of users demand for it.

With Mobilligy app, you can view upcoming bills, view notifications, view and add billers, view and setup payment accounts, view reminders, invite friends to use Mobilligy and read news from Mobilligy. The app can also be PIN protected to avoid unauthorized use. Mobilligy can be used from more than one devices and the app allows management of devices used to access the service.

So, with Mobilligy Bill Pay, you will never miss a payment and will avoid paying late fees at no extra cost. And according to them, the app has bank level security which is much better than other bill payment apps.

The app is good and secure, free and convenient but the downside is that it is that the app’s interface is less user-friendly which needs some attention from the developers.

Feb 022014

By Mohammed Waseem

Online bill payment services are increasing day by day. Many of them come up with innovative services but only a few of them gain popularity. One such company is Xpress Bill Pay, a Utah based bill payment solution provider. What makes them unique is that most of the bills paid through them are paid in the real time, paid and received the next day; and that payments can be made using credit cards.

Xpress Bill Pay offers payment solutions for both small and large organizations. These organizations can offer online bill payment powered by Xpress Bill Pay, allowing their customers to pay bills online using credit/debit cards or electronic fund transfers. Customers are supposed to log on to the website in order to see their bills and pay them accordingly.

Xpress Bill pay LogoXpress Bill Pay was ranked 10 by toptenreviews.com, who also suggested that this service is suitable for those customers who do not have an extensive list of bills to pay each month. The customer is notified by e-mail when a new bill is received and automatic payment can also be setup once the customer logs in. Apart from these, for physical records, bills can also be printed in the same format of paper bills.

The system is very easy to setup and use, as it uses existing financial information from the companies’ financial software, without the need to migrate all the information separately. They suggest that their solution is ideal for the municipal government, utility companies and rental properties, though they could offer it to others as well.

The company was founded in 2003 and operates only in the US in a few states including Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. They have plans for expansion to other states soon. Not all bills can be paid through them, as a customer cannot approach them directly for payment, it must be through their service provider and not all service providers are the customers of Xpress Bill Pay.

Xpress Bill Pay aims to become the one-stop shop for all online bill payment needs of their customers, that is to say, the service providers.

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