Apr 202014

By Mohammed Waseem

Electronic bill payment is being introduced in all parts of the world with the advancement of technology and with the introduction of innovative ways to make payments. We have some exceptional technologies that we learnt from African countries; M-Pesa, for example, the mobile wallet system which was introduced first in Kenya and later introduced in many other countries under different brand names.

M-Pesa users can pay bills from their mobile wallets at any time in all countries where M-Pesa is operational, which are predominantly in Africa. It is a very easy and convenient way to pay bills; a user can pay right from his/her mobile phone. All one has to do is register for M-Pesa, select ‘Pay Bill’ from the M-Pesa menu, enter the biller account number and the customer number, enter M-Pesa PIN  and confirm the details.

Africa Bill PayApart from M-Pesa, Africa has other bill pay options such as bill payments through Africa Financial Center (AFC). Through them, users can pay various bills such as utilities, education, mortgages, etc. They accept payments online.

Similarly, there are local bill pay options in various countries, such as South African Post Office Bill Pay, EasyPay in South Africa and other African countries, Airtel Money in many countries and so on. A company called Paymenex offers bill presentment and payment solutions in many countries around the world, which also include countries of Africa.

Many mobile wallets have integrated bill payment into their services, including those offered by Celpay in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, MTN Mobile in Rwanda and elsewhere, and M-Sentle in Uganda.

African population generally prefer the pay-as-you-go model instead of the subscription model, which resulted in low adoption rates for many online and mobile bill pay services. There are efforts from a few companies and it is hoped that the adoption rate will increase gradually, if not rapidly.

Apr 152014

By Mohammed Waseem

We have discussed bill payment services, predominantly of the US market, so lets now see services available in other parts of the world as well. In this article, I will talk about the electonic bill payment service available in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The service is called SADAD and was established by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), with an aim to streamline bill payment process in the Kingdom.

SADAD was launched to facilitate Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) through the banks in the Kingdom. It was launched in the year 2004. The banks through which customers can make payments include Al Rajhi Bank, National Commercial Bank (NCB), Saudi Investment Bank, Saudi Arabian British Bank (SABB), Samba Financial Group, Arab National Bank and Saudi Holland Bank to name a few.

SADAD PaymentPayment can be made to almost all utilities. The list of supported billers can be accessed here. All the banks’ channels can be used to make payments, including branches, ATM, SMS, Online Banking, Phone Banking and Mobile Banking with some banks.

The process involves billers sending bill information to SADAD at a predetermined schedule, which is then validated and uploaded into the system. In case of a discrepancy, the biller is informed and asked to make the required change. Customers then request bills from the banks’ channels and when they are fetched a customer selects a bill and pays it. The customer’s bank account is then debited and confirmation is sent to SADAD, after which, the database at SADAD is updated. At the end of the day, they settle the transactions through Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express (SARIE) and a report is sent to each biller mentioning the transaction details.

It is very convenient to be able to pay bills from all the channels of almost all banks in the Kingdom for almost all utilities across the country. This service can be accessed by everyone residing in the country.

Apr 102014

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill payment has become so easy today that with a few clicks in a few seconds, we can pay our bills while at home or on the go. Billeo, a leading online shopping and bill pay service provider works towards simplifying and speeding up online and mobile payments. They have association with leading banks and financial institutions, over 20000 billers, 1500 merchants and have over 1.5 million customers.

Their services include XpressBuy and XpressPay. XpressBuy is meant for online marketplaces, and it enables them to drive easy and instant purchases directly from their website or from the customer’s phone or tablet. It offers a fast, simple and secure checkout service across a variety of merchants. This works with a “Buy” button which the merchants add on their websites. XpressBuy supports many of the top 500 merchants, such as Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Sears, Target, and Buy.com. They are continuously working on adding more merchants to the list. The service also works with wallets used by the merchants, and Billeo offers its own wallet as well. They also offer customer solutions such as use of social media in creating business

Billeo Online ScreenXpressPay is meant for bill payment and delivers a simple, instant card-funded bill payment service across a variety of billers. It enables a bank to drive instant bill payment with a bank-issued debit or credit card right from the bank’s existing bill payment tool. XpressPay looks up the amount and date due of a bill and completes the bill pay process in just a few seconds, from any online or mobile device. A bank enables XpressPay by placing a “Pay Now” button next to a supported biller. The customers click this button and are redirected to the payment gateway, without leaving the bank’s website.

Billeo’s XpressPay and XpressBuy solutions are available to customers through merchants and financial institutions. They also offer a browser app which works with Internet Explorer and Firefox as a browser add-on to help manage online financial transactions in a faster and more organized way. Billeo’s Bill Pay Assistant allows users to pay bills from more than 11,000 sources, like water delivery, rent, taxes and medical bills. It also includes reminders for due bills.

Billeo’s services are good for financial institutions who intend to engage better with their customers, and for the merchants who want a simple checkout process.

Apr 032014

By Mohammed Waseem

UK mobile operators have come up with a service to enable their subscribers to charge their phone bill or prepaid credit for online shopping. The service is called Payforit and it provides a common framework for mobile billing. All major UK mobile operators including the MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) support the service and many retailers accept it as a method of payment.

Payforit is a trusted safe and simple method of charging consumers for goods and services bought through mobile sites or the web. This service does not require the users to sign up or fill any form, nor does it require them to enter bank account or card details, all they have to do is click the “Pay Now” button.

PayforitPayforit is available for use on mobile phones, as well as on computers. On a computer, when users click on ‘Pay Now’, they are requested to enter their mobile number. A unique code is then sent to that number by SMS, which is supposed to be entered on the website to complete the payment. Mobile users only have to click on one button to complete the payment.

Many retailers have opted to use this as a method of accepting payments because it is quick, easy and official. In addition, the potential of mobile payments is very high; according to predictions, they could even replace card payments in the future. Payforit presents the correct rates according to the rate regulator, PhonepayPlus. So, there is no chance of extra charges appearing on the phone bill.

A disadvantage of this service is that it is not password protected, which means that anyone can make transactions if they have the phone, causing the charges to appear on the phone owner’s bill. In addition, anyone who uses the phone’s internet data connection via tethering can make transactions while the charges are applied to the owner’s bill. This can be avoided by appropriately locking the web services to be used only by the owner and not sharing the phone’s internet connection, except when necessary for personal purposes. Otherwise, Payforit is a great initiative which is not just official, but also convenient.

Apr 012014

By Mohammed Waseem

We must have heard about Fiserv, a global provider of e-commerce and information management systems for the financial industry. They offer an excellent bill payment service called MyCheckFree which is available for individuals.

MyCheckFree, as the name indicates, is a free service and a quick and easy way to pay bills online. They have an extensive list of companies to whom bills can be paid. Each time a user adds a payee, the mascot dog names ‘Scout’ retrieves the bills for that payee; and each time a user logs in, the dog waits with their bills in its mouth, waiting for a command. This is an interesting feature apart from being free and may attract pet lovers. Using the website is like communicating with Scout; for instance, the link to sign up says “Go Scout! Enroll“.

MyCheckFree from FiservaWhen a payee has been added, most of the billing information is already there in the payment center. All the user has to do is choose the amounts, date of payment and the account from which they want to pay, and then pay the selected bills. Users can sign up for electronic bills to be received directly on their online account, instead of paper bills sent to their mail.

When a user schedules a payment, Fiserv starts processing the payments 2 days prior to the date scheduled, in order to make the payments reach on the scheduled date. It the scheduled date falls on a holiday or a weekend, the date is automatically adjusted to fall on the previous business day. Payments can be made from checking and money market accounts, or major credit cards where accepted by the biller.

Every payment a user makes has a 100% guarantee. If the bill fails to be paid on time, i.e. is paid after the due date, Fiserv would bear the late-payment charges up to $50, as long as the bill was scheduled properly to reach on time. Payment can not be made to anyone using this service, unlike many other services. The list of supported billers can be accessed here. Emergency payments can also be made to selected billers and some billers may charge a fee for this service.

MyCheckFree ranks 6th on TopTenReviews with a 7.63 rating on 10. It is a great service for the fact that it is secure, reliable and free, but users can pay bills only to billers on their list. Many companies allow even individuals to be added as payees, which this service lacks; otherwise, it is a good service.

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