Dec 292013
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill payment has often been an inconvenient chore, requiring us to go to the service provider, stand in queues and make payment. Online bill payment has made our lives easier in which we just visit the service provider’s website and make the payment with debit/credit cards or from bank accounts.

A company in Russia called Yandex.Money has launched a one-stop bill payment service called Gorodskiye Platezhi (Urban Payments) with inclusion of over 30000 service providers across Russian Federation. One just has to visit their website, select the service provider using the TIN (Tax Identification Number) or the company name and make payment. They offer three ways to make the payment:

  1. Bank Cards (Credit/Debit cards)
  2. Electronic Money (Yandex.Money Electronic Wallet)
  3. Cash

YandexMoney

Interestingly, the website does not require the payer to sign up as many other bill payment services do. Wherever the users are, they can pay bills for internet, mobile phones, TV, parking and almost everything. No commission is charged for internet, TV, and telephones (mobiles and domestic) but for other services including utility payments, 1%-2% commission is charged; except for traffic fines in which case the commission is flat 30 Ruble.

For cash payments, one has to enter the payment information on the website and provide a phone number or email. A payment code is then sent to the specified phone number or email, which has to be presented to the nearest Euroset or Svyaznoi salon or a payment terminal which accepts Yandex.Money payments. If for example the terminal does not have change to return to the payer, the balance is credited to the phone number specified.

According to Yandex.Money CEO, a third of Russians don’t pay their utility bills on time because they don’t have time or they forget. When the next bill arrives, they pay the previous bill then. To cater to this irregularity, they started this service, which is available not only for Yandex.Money users, but for everyone, as payments can also be made using bank cards or cash. 4-traders.com reports that by the end of 2013, approximately 16 million electronic wallets had been registered on Yandex.Money, with 9000 new ones added every day and around 50000 stores operating on the internet and offline accepted Yandex.Money payments.

Nov 092012
 

By Renee D. for SafeBillPay.net

The internet has of course been around for decades now, but services like online bill pay are fairly recent. Also known as “electronic bill payments” or “e-bill payments”, online bill pay is a unique service that most banks, credit unions, and specialty companies offer consumers for both business and personal need.

What is an Online Payment Service?

As the name implies, this service makes it possible for you to pay your bills via the internet as opposed to mailing them in through the post. The exact methods of pay would depend on the exact company or financial institution.

Online bill pay

Online bill pay has grown in the last few years.

For instance, some bill pay systems are set up so money would be deducted directly from your checking or savings account with a bank or credit union. Alternatively, payment could be made using a credit card or debit card. In fact, there are some services that accept both forms of payment.

Components of Bill Pay Services

Along with different methods to pay bills online are system features that vary for each business or financial institution. However, every bill pay service offers many of the same features, such as:

Delivery – Due to consumer demand, most payments are sent in real time. On the other hand, there are some payments that are processed as part of a batch. With this, payments from multiple customers would be sent together but to different creditors.

Fees – Although it is common practice for fees to be charged when sending money via a transfer or bill pay system, the amount varies from one company or financial institution to another. Because the fees charged can be significant, you should familiarize yourself with the fee structure prior to using any service for paying bills online.

Retail or Peer-to-Peer Payments – While most of the better known payment services accommodate payments of all types, there are some that only process payments to retailers and peers, which would include online retailers like Overstock.com, eBay.com, and Amazon.com, among others.

The EBP System – Electronic Billing and Payment

The National Automated Clearing House Association’s electronic billing system was created by The Council for Electronic Billing and Payment (EBP). This model made it possible for specific billing applications to be implemented and payments to be submitted by customers. Once approved and launched, EBP systems provided the ability to pay bills over the phone but also via the internet. As part of this new system, customers were also given the opportunity to access financial and billing information.

Any good online bill pay service will offer efficient customer support by telephone and email to help customers facilitate payments, get answers to important questions, or raise concerns. There are other benefits to paying bills online. For instance, making payments is easier and more convenient but also less expensive since the need for stamps is eliminated. Online bill pay is also environmentally friendly since fewer trees are cut down to produce paper.

Between banks, credit unions, and special bill pay companies, different types of systems are used. However, the two most common systems include the following:

Bank Aggregator – With this model, payments are made at an aggregator or consolidator site. In most cases, the payments are facilitated by the individual’s own bank via website. The greatest benefit to this option is the ability to pay several creditors at once that are already registered and approved to receive payments.

Biller Direct – This second model allows an individual to make payments through just one biller. With this, the bill pay service could accommodate bills issued from a creditor that are sent to the creditor’s website. For instance, an electric or gas bill would authorize the bill pay company or financial institution to be a third-party through which a person could make the payment.

Team Approach

While it might seem that paying bills online is a process that involves only the debtor and bill pay facilitator, in reality there are several parties involved. For instance, bankers, billers, consolidators, and aggregators also play a key role in bills being paid online. Obviously, the exact parties involved depends on the service but also the consumer’s specific need. Some of the primary players in online payment services include:

Biller Payment Provider or BPP – This is a biller’s agent through which remittance information would be received on behalf of the actual biller

Biller Service Provider or BSP – Also a biller’s agent, the focus for this is not on the customer but instead on the biller

Consolidator – A consolidator is a biller service provider responsible for consolidating bills from more than one biller. In addition, the consolidator would consolidate other Bill Service Providers, which would then be presented to a Customer Service Provider or CSP.

Customer Service Provider or CSP – As the title implies, this is a customer support professional that provides answers and assistance to individuals and businesses but other presenters of bills as well. As part of the CSP’s job, customer would receive assistance with enrollment, given approval to present bills, and provided ongoing support for issues or concerns that might arise.

Aug 022012
 

By Joyce Morse for SafeBillPay.net

You may know that you can use the mobile app from your bank to pay bills on your smart phone, but did you know that you can choose from other companies for bill payments? This is ideal for people that have more than one bank account and want to manage all of their payments in one place.

Two major online bill payment companies provide their services throughout the US: PayTrust and CheckFree. We will go over the highlights of each one so you can make an informed choice of which one to use.

PayTrust

Paying bills online

Paying bills online

PayTrust works with any bank and allows you to make payments from up to 10 accounts. They even receive and manage your bills; however, you can still see either a summary of your bill or detailed information.

For each bill you add to PayTrust, you can get an email notification when it is coming due and set up a payment. You can also set up a recurring payment so you don’t have to deal with it each month.

For your peace of mind, PayTrust never automatically pays a bill unless you set it up that way. You can still choose to pay by another method at any time; for instance, by credit card or money order if you do not have enough money in your bank account. At this time, PayTrust only pays from checking accounts.

PayTrust sends payments electronically or by paper check, and they can be sent to individuals as well as businesses. Records are maintained online for 24 months and offline for 7 years. There is a fee associated with using PayFree.

MyCheckFree

MyCheckFree is another online bill payer that allows you to pay bills to any company they are partnered with. You set up an account with MyCheckFree and add any bills you want paid with account numbers. They will make payment through your checking or money market account or with a credit card if the payee accepts them.

MyCheckFree does not charge a fee to use its service. They also retain records of your bills for six months. If you are concerned about your payment arriving on time, you can rest assured with the MyCheckFree guarantee. They will take responsibility for any late charges if it does not arrive on time as long as you set up the payment in accordance with their guidelines.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both companies, depending on your needs. To learn more about each of them, here are links to their websites. These are not sponsored links or affiliate links. You are under no obligation to sign up for either service.

PayTrust
MyCheckFree

Online bill pay can make your life easier and save time that you would normally spend organizing and making payments. While it can be helpful, you are still in control of your bills and responsible for making timely payments to protect your credit.

Mar 212012
 
Young woman paying bills

Make scattered bills a thing of the past by paying and storing your bills online.

Would you like to free yourself from paper bills altogether? How about being able to see and pay all your bills on one website? Not to mention saving trees, and cutting down on the 48 billion paper notices and bills sent by the U.S. Post Office every year.

A new service called Manilla.com claims to help you collect and organize your bills — everything from credit card and mortgage payments, to student loan debt and auto payments.

Manilla.com also has a free smartphone app, so you can see and pay your bills on the phone.

Best of all, the Manilla.com service is free to the consumer. It’s paid for by the billing companies, since they save money not having to send out paper bills. And they can post important notices like required privacy forms or billing practices online for each customer to read in his or her own account.

Terry Savage of the Chicago Sun-Times writes:

No more going to your mailbox or post office box, or risking late payments because you were traveling. Now the bills arrive in your Manilla account, where you can see the exact bill that would have arrived in paper form. You can see the exact details — even more than many billers send in the mail. And you can reach out to contact the biller or dispute a charge, just as if you had received a paper bill.

Manilla will notify you when bills are coming due, so all you have to do is click and pay securely. And if you have several bank accounts (for business and household, for example), you can choose which account to pay from when you are paying your bill.

There’s a handy calendar on your secure home page, showing you regular monthly bills that you receive and the date by which they must be paid. Plus, Manilla will send you reminders by text or e-mail when regular bills are scheduled to arrive — or if you’ve failed to pay a bill on time.

In a way, Manilla.com is also a records storage service, since it saves all your paid bills for years. It also has a search feature to search through past bills quickly.

I haven’t personally tried Manilla.com, but I’ll check it out. If you have used it, please let us know how it’s working out for you.

Aug 102009
 

In a blurb on GreenTechMedia.com, Michael Kanellos points out the “green” aspect of online bill payment. He writes:

Bill.com – 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.

Jan 032009
 

Here’s Part Two of that great article from TheStreet.com. In this part Kelsey Abbott, a freelance writer from Maine, explains how to set up an online bank account and what to watch out for. I’ve summarized the article, but you can read the full article here:

While online bill pay is growing in popularity, not even a third of Americans have signed up.Now, let’s look at exactly how you can get started.

Setting up your account

First, you’ll need a username and password for your bank’s online banking and bill pay center. If you don’t have them already, follow the directions on your bank’s Web site to set up your username and password.Then gather your regular bills, log in to your account and navigate to the online banking section, where you’ll find a page that allows you to set up payees.If your bank allows you to receive electronic bills, or e-bills, you can search the bank’s list of companies that offer such bills. If you receive bills from any of these companies, you can select the option to cancel future paper bills and have all bills sent electronically to your online banking account.If you make regular payments to companies that don’t offer e-bills — or if your bank doesn’t accept e-bills — register payees by entering the company’s address and your account number in the payee-setup area. Then you can set the amount you want to pay the company and the date you want the bank to draft and send a check for that amount.Keep in mind that you don’t have to schedule recurring payments. You can log in to your online account anytime to pay bills or check balances. You may also be able to sign up for automated e-mails that will alert you a few days before a bill is due or when your bank account balance drops below a threshold you’ve determined.

Keep your money safe

Keep tabs on your account to make sure you know exactly how much money is in it, and which payments are coming up. And check your e-mail regularly to stay on top of payment alerts and other notifications. Beware of scams like phishing. This popular scheme involves sending an email that instructs the recipient to update personal information, such as a bank account or Social Security number. The message may appear to come from the recipient’s bank, but actually links to a website set up by the scammers in order to steal your information. (Editor: I get these all the time for Paypal, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and others. They even create fake websites that look like the real bank’s website, but you can tell right away that it’s fake by looking closely at the URL, the website address). You can protect yourself. Never send your account information via e-mail, and don’t click on a link in an e-mail from someone you don’t know.

In addition, use a strong password — one that is too complicated to guess. (Your birth date or child’s name isn’t a good password.) Change your password regularly, and take advantage of every layer of security your bank offers. For example, Bank of America’s SafePass will send you a text message containing a one-time passcode. The code expires after you use it to authorize your online banking transaction. Some criminals still use the telephone to fish for your personal information. As a rule of thumb, don’t give out personal information unless you initiate the contact.

After you’ve paid your first few bills online, use the next statement you receive from each of those companies to see how well the system worked. Compare the date the payee received your money with the date for which you scheduled online payment. If your bill was paid on time, all is well. But if payment arrived later than you expected, set next month’s payment a few days earlier.

Ms. Abbott mentioned Bank of America in the article. I do my online banking with BofA, but I’ve been thinking of switching for some time, for a few reasons. Bank of America charges monthly account fees, ATM fees if you use a non-BofA ATM, and has generally unpleasant policies towards their workers. When I find a bank I like better, I’ll write about it here.

Mar 302008
 

Via the Stockton Record (Recordnet.com), By Harley Becker, Record Staff Writer, March 21, 2008:

Electronic payment is slowly replacing snail mail as the preferred method for paying utility bills in San Joaquin County’s five major cities.

Lathrop, Tracy and Stockton have been offering some form electronic bill pay service since 2004 and 2005. Manteca joined them last year, and Lodi will be on board in the next 60 days or so.

The cities’ motivations for offering such service generally fall along the lines of providing greater customer service or acknowledging that today’s young adults are tech-savvy and expect their communities to be up to date, too.

But, as a side benefit, people who use electronic bill paying may be saving their city significant money. And the cities would prefer that method whether it saves money or not.

The most costly way for a city to receive payment is when someone walks in the door at City Hall and hands over cash, explained Tracy Finance Director Zane Johnson.

The process: Bills are mailed to each customer. When the person arrives at City Hall with their payment, someone needs to be standing at the counter to take the money and write a receipt. At the end of the day, someone has to count the cash and balance out the register. Extra procedures follow to protect against fraud. Finally, an armored car company picks up the money and takes it to the bank.

Johnson said the city has never stopped to count up the total, but it is definitely more costly than when an electronic bill is sent to the customer’s e-mail address and, with a few clicks of a mouse, the payment transfers from a credit card to the city’s bank account. In some cases, customers sign up for automatic withdrawal of funds, he said, but most of the time, they go online monthly to pay.

While Stockton would prefer to have bills paid online, Stockton Revenue Officer Kathy Whitman said she does not see the service as saving money, since the city must pay the costs involved in electronic transactions.

The article above comes from the Stockton Record, so it deals only with the nearby cities within California’s Central Valley. I’m curious to know what percentage of cities nationwide have instituted online bill pay for utilities.

Feb 222008
 

Great article on TheStreet.com yesterday about paying bills online. I’ve summarized it here:

Say it ain’t so — you’re still writing checks.

After all this time, only around 28% of Americans pay their monthly bills online. If you’re still putting felt pen to safety paper, you’re missing out.

Online bill payment can help you to manage your budget, protect yourself from identity theft, declutter your life and protect the environment.

Here are five reasons you should sign up for online bill pay:

1. It’s Free

At most banks, there is no charge for using online bill pay.

2. It’s Easy to Use

You can pay anything using online bill pay — credit cards, mortgage payments, even the babysitter (as long as she accepts checks).

3. It’s Secure

Online banking is safer than traditional paper banking. In fact, just 2% of identity thefts occur online — and 53% of identity thieves know their victims personally.

4. It Makes Record-Keeping Easier

Moving your bills online will drastically cut back on the amount of paper you’ll have to file.

Better yet, you’ll have easy electronic access to your records — which is much more convenient than digging through paper files.

You’ll still get your monthly statements, as well. Some banks will mail you the paper statement. Others will give you the option to view it online. If that’s the case, follow your bank’s instructions to save a copy on your hard drive.

5. It Helps the Enviroment

If every U.S. household switched to paperless bill pay, the ensuing reduction in emissions would be equivalent to taking 355,000 cars off the road.

For more details, see the full article at TheStreet.com. These are all great reasons to make the switch and start paying your bills online, if you haven’t already. I’ve been paying all my bills online for about three years now, and I don’t miss all that paper at all. And I like knowing that I’m doing something for the environment.

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