Mar 192014

By Mohammed Waseem

ProfitStars, a leading software, solution and technology innovator has a bill payment solutions for retail banking customers including small businesses. They are a Jack Henry Company, operating as a diverse, global division of the latter.

More than 4000 financial institutions already use their solutions called iPay Solutions which are meant for online bill pay and mobile bill pay. There are 5 different products offered under iPay solutions. There is Consumer Online Bill Pay which is meant for individual consumers, there is Biz 2.0 for businesses to make payments including payroll, there is BillSimple for billers. TheWayIPay for person-to-person payments and Mobile Bill Pay for iPhone and Android users.

iPay SolutionsThey also have iPay OneClick, which supports single or recurring payments with other web banking providers and Andiamo, which provides a single view of aggregated data from multiple financial institutions in a mobile application. All of their solutions are available for businesses and not for individuals. So, if individuals use their services through their online banking accounts.

iPay Online Bill Pay offers several options such as single, recurring and automatic payments when it comes to paying a bill. Recurring payments can be setup weekly, monthly, annually or at any other frequency. Single payments can also be made to individuals on their email address or electronically or by sending them a check.

The payments calendar displays all the past, pending and future bills for the better convenience of the user. Reminders can also be setup in order to avoid missing a due date. When a payee has been added and a bill is being paid, the amount of the last bill paid is displayed on the screen and it is displayed every time a user pays a bill, so that they don’t have to go elsewhere to check this information.

Notifications can be received by email or text message or both, as chosen by the user, which includes a report of bills paid. E-bills can be received directly on the online bill pay account for supported billers. E-bills history for 18 months can also be viewed online.

iPay Solutions is a comprehensive solution for businesses which includes all services which a good bill pay service should have. Many American companies already use their services, and the customers can access online bill pay from their online banking accounts or their mobile phones.

Mar 162014

By Mohammed Waseem

Fast and secure online bill pay has become a requirement of many US citizens. Banks and other companies have recognized this need well and have been coming up with new services. As the competition increases, every other company is coming up with a service, one better than the other. As customers try to make choices, companies continue to innovate an
look for their share of customers from the market. But as we know, only some services win early adapters.

Few companies allow bill pay for a few categories of billers while others allow even individuals to be considered as billers. A company of the former league called ‘Official Payments’ allows payments to billers among utilities, educational institutions, etc.

Official PaymentsPreviously known as Choice Pay, which indicated that the billers are limited or chosen, Official Payments allows customers to pay bills for a limited number of service providers. They also allow customers to pay Federal personal taxes. They have partnered with governments, utilities, education providers and other ‘official’ payment collecting organizations across the US; this includes over 300 universities and over 3000 municipalities.

Payments are accepted by credit cards, debit cards or by electronic check. Apart from the online payment service, they also offer IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and POS (Point of Sale) payment services. For businesses, they offer bill presentment (electronic billing) solutions. They also allow automatic payments for recurring bills and payment reminders in order to avoid missing the due dates. Taxes can be paid even without signing up on the website. Payments can be scheduled to be paid up to 30 days in advance.

Their centralized payment system indexed by zip code is very good. It allows customers to select billers that are geographically relevant. They have a Fee Calculator in the Payment Center, which provides bill-specific fee details which may differ geographically. Every customer has an e-wallet assigned, where they can store multiple credit card and bank account numbers in a secure environment. This leads to convenience, as the customers do not have to remember or note down these numbers or look at a credit/debit card for copying numbers. The e-wallet service is an optional service which can store up to 10 bank account profiles and up to 10 credit/debit card profiles.

In order to pay bills, one has to sign up and follow a simple 6 step procedure: selection of the service (Federal, State, Local and Education), entering the amount, providing the details, confirming the details and finally, receiving the digital receipt.

Official Payments is a convenient bill payment service which ensures payments are officially made quickly; in some cases, on the same day. This service is ideal for those who have a small number of bills to pay; but for those who have a large variety of bills to pay, this service is not the right choice.

Mar 122014

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill pay services offered by banks are preferred by many customers as it is not a separate service and is offered like any other add on service to online banking. Like many banks, BBVA Compass, a US financial institution offers bill pay service to their online banking customers.

The benefit of bill pay service offered by banks in that one does not have to remember another username and password as they can access bill pay service from their online banking account. It is not difficult for banks to add a bill pay service to their additional services, considering the similarity of their operation with how online bill pay works.

BBVA Compass Online Bill PayBBVA Compass offers an outstanding bill pay service which lets customers pay bills quickly and easily. How they differentiate themselves from other services is that all bills can be paid from one screen. Users can schedule payments for a later date and can access same day payment service. Users can also get the history of each bill automatically while paying it.

Like other services, reminders can be setup in order to avoid missing due dates. Users can choose to receive bills in the electronic form instead of physical paper bills, which are more convenient. When a bill is received, users can immediately schedule a payment, days, weeks and months in advance.

In order to use the service, users need to login to their online banking account and choose “Bill Pay” from the “Payments & Transfers” tab and click on ‘Activate Services’. After confirming the account, payees can be added for different payee groups.

The major drawback of this service is that it is dependent on the online banking service. Non-customers cannot access the bill pay service as a standalone service; instead they will need to open an account with BBVA Compass and activate the service. The bill pay service is offered free for most account holders and is a great service with a lot of features, but only for members.

Mar 102014

By Mohammed Waseem

Few banks in the US offer online banking with bill pay services. I discussed about Wells Fargo few days ago; today, I will discuss a service offered by another American bank – PNC, which is the 6th largest bank in the US. It has over 2700 branches across 19 states.

PNC offers online bill payments services with focus on convenience, control and encouragement to go paperless. They also focus on being one-stop bill payment service, without the users having to remember passwords for different websites. They are also a free service, as it is a service offered along with their banking services.

Online Bill Pay by PNCOnline bill pay service is available to the residents of the US to pay bills in the US and the users need to have a checking account or a savings account. With this service, users can manage household finances, business accounts and their investments. They also offer the users choice between paper bills and ebills for participating billers.

The online bill pay service is extremely easy to use and very convenient. Management of bills is very easy because users can track unpaid bills, verify past bills, check status of current bills and modify payee list with ease. Users can pay anyone who they would normally pay by check, individuals and businesses. Manual payments can be made for one-time bills and recurring bills with different amounts each month. Automatic payments can be setup for recurring bills with same monthly amounts. Payment can be scheduled up to one year in advance.

Most payments made are delivered the next business day, but if payment is sent by check, it may take a few more days. When the user enters the amount, the system automatically displays the earliest date of payment delivery which can be changed for scheduling payment at a later date. Payment calendar helps the users determine dates they can select for making the payments. Users can also check the status of their bills from their account. Additionally, users can pay their bills using their PNC Bank Visa Debit Card or Credit Card.

When users open accounts and sign on to online banking, they are automatically registered for bill pay. Reminders can be setup for due bills and custom notifications can be setup for a number of options.

They have an online demonstration for this service, which I found very interesting. It can be accessed here. TopTenReviews rated them 8.32 on 10 which places them 4th in the ranking. It is a great service for members, allowing them to pay all their bills from one place with ease.

Mar 052014

By Mohammed Waseem

We know many bill pay services offered by banks and other leading companies. The tech giant Microsoft also has a bill pay service under the brand name MSN. It is not directly offered by them, but by CheckFree Services Corporation which lets users to pay through MSN Money and thus, the service is called MSN Bill Pay.

Users can pay anyone in the United States that they would normally pay by check or automatic debit, even if they do not receive bills from the payee. MSN Bill Pay allows receipt of some bills online and payment can be made for all bills. The bills can be viewed online at the Payment Center, which is where bills are paid from. Automatic payments can be setup for recurring bills and one time payments can also be made.

MSN Bill PayUsers can review bills for a period of 24 months and can also transfer money from one payment account to another. Payment accounts include checking account and money market account. Savings account can be used for transfers if the option is available. A user can use multiple accounts for paying bills.

In order to pay, users need to add payees, after which the bills for those payees are added to the account. Users can pay as many as 30 bills at the same time from the Payment Center. Notifications can be setup for bills due, in order to avoid missing a due date. On entering the amount, an earlier date biller receives the payment is displayed, which can be changed to schedule a payment at a later date and for some billers, expedited payment is also supported for overnight check delivery.

Their website does not have the fee details for the service, but it is not a free service like many others. However, I found that they charge $5.95 per 15 transactions and $0.50 for every additional transaction or $2.95 per 5 transactions a month and $1.50 for every additional transaction.

They rank 2nd in the top ten reviews with a rating of 9.43 on 10. According to them, MSN Bill Pay is very versatile and is a good way to make sure all your bills are paid on time.

Mar 022014

By Mohammed Waseem

Financial corporations offering services which banks offer is not something new, but when they begin competing with the banks, that becomes interesting. Fidelity Investments, an American multinational financial corporation offers this interesting cash management service which can be used for savings, investments, etc.

One of the accounts available for customers is the Fidelity Cash Management Account. No fee is charged for maintaining this account, nor is there a minimum balance requirement. Account holders are also offered debit cards and other innovative services such as mobile check deposit. Users can scan and deposit checks using their iPhones, iPads or Android devices. Additionally, users can manage their cash from one secure place and access electronic fund transfers and automatic investments. Users can also create their own alerts with the Cash Manager tool.

Fidelity Cash Management AccountOne of the services available for this account is Bill Pay, which is a free online service which lets the users manage bills from anywhere and pay them on time.

The bill pay option is also available on mobile devices on the Fidelity Mobile apps, available for Android and iOS. The service allows the users to receive and pay electronic bills from the participating billers. One time payments can be made and automatic payment can also be setup for recurring bills. Reminders for due bills can also be setup in order to avoid missing the due date.

No fee is charged for using this service, because it is a part of other wider services, which are the Cash Management Account and the Brokerage Account. In order to use bill payment, users have to sign up for an account with Fidelity Investments at their website by choosing ‘Open an Account’ from the upper right hand corner of the page and then choosing the appropriate option. Signup process is just a few easy steps, after which Bill Pay service has to be added from the ‘Manage Account Features’ option within Customer Service page.

Bill Pay is also available for other Fidelity accounts such as the Health Saving Accounts to manage qualified medical expenses and the 529 College Savings Accounts to manage college savings and paying college or other tuition fees.

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