Aug 232014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Mobile money operator, Telenor, which runs the mobile money transfer and service called Easypaisa also offers bill payment through the same product. It is a hassle free and secure way to pay all utility bills including electricity, gas, telephone, water, and internet bills. Bills can be paid at any of the Easypaisa shops, Telenor Sales & Service Centers, Tameer Microfinance Bank Branches, Telenor Franchises and others.

Users can pay at any time and from anywhere and complete security is guaranteed. The network of supported payment locations enables the users to pay from anywhere. Easypaisa is available 24 hours in a day and 7 days a week, so they are easily accessible.

EasypaisaAll transactions happen in the real time and instant notification is sent to the user on payment of a bill. The service supports around 25 utility billers across Pakistan and more billers will hopefully be added with time. No additional charges are applicable for paying bills through Easypaisa shops. However, paying bills from the Easypaisa Mobile Account has a fee applicable.

The system is automated and secure, coupled with automatic and instant payment. Anyone can pay a bill by visiting an Easypaisa outlet, but payment from an Easypaisa Mobile Account is only allowed for the subscribers.

In order to pay a bill at an Easypaisa outlet, users need to bring the bill and the amount in cash at the outlet on any working day between 9 AM and 5 PM, provide their mobile number for notifications and collect the stamped bill which carries the transaction ID and the agent ID. With Easypaisa Mobile Account, users can pay bills on the go, at any time and from anywhere.

To pay a bill using a mobile phone, Easypaisa Mobile Account subscribers need to dial *786# and select “Pay Bill” before selecting the bill category and the biller. The customer number printed on the bill has to be entered then, to get the bill details. In order to confirm, the PIN has to be entered and the payment is released. An SMS is immediately received with the confirmation, amount, fee charged and the Easypaisa Account balance.

The service is good for avoiding queues and enabling on the go payments, but a lot can be done to improve and innovate in this area.

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.

Jan 272014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Bill payment services have been in a race to make the lives of their users easier and convenient. There is one company which offers highly convenient bill payment service which is preferred by many Americans; it is Manilla.

Manilla focuses on paperless bill management. They intend to eliminate paper bills and to help migrate bill delivery and payment over to the online, paperless platform. Few companies have started online bill delivery and payment service. Manilla being one of them has been adopted by many Americans.

Manilla Bills Calendar

Manilla Bills Calendar

Migration of bill delivery and payment will take time as a few people still prefer paper bills which they receive by mail. However, even these people can use online payment services for payment and for storing their bills online. Perhaps with time, they will be used to e-bills and paper bills will be eliminated. They say that after having received so many bills, paying bills online or by mobile phone is often a separate transaction which is inconvenient.

Manilla addresses just that concern. With Manilla, anyone can sign up and have all their bills organized and stored in one place. Paid bills are kept in the archive to be accessed anytime and deleted as needed, and new bills are added when they are received by email. They also have a reminder feature which lets the user know when bills are due so that payment can be made on time. Reminders are received when they are due in order to avoid fines; they can be received by email or SMS as the user chooses and whenever the user logs in, all due bills are shown, apart from the dedicated reminders dashboard. Manilla also helps the user manage expenses and avoid overspending.

Bills can also be shared with family and friends in order to manage expenses together with shared account summaries and details. Nearly 3500 national and regional billers have already been added to the biller list. But if one does not find their biller they can always add custom accounts that Manilla doesn’t support, so much so that an account for babysitter, dog walker, etc. can be set up for payment. In addition to bill payment, Manilla is offering $5 for every referral users make.

Manilla has 4 types of accounts which can be accessed and managed from the online account manager. Household accounts for managing all household bill payments including phone, utility, internet, etc., Financial accounts for credit cards and other financial services, Subscriptions for magazines, newspapers, etc., and Loyalty Programs with various service providers. They have also partnered with AOL for the AOL Bill Manager.

Manilla mobile apps are available for download on Android, iOS and Kindle Fire. There is another company called Doxo which offers similar services. I have discussed about it in my previous post.

Jan 222014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Doxo, a US based online bill payment company aims at connecting service providers and the customers in order to make bill payment paper-free. This would enable companies to save a lot in printing and postage.

Doxo has software which they call digital filing cabinet, which enables the users to manage their bills in one place, in one cabinet. As the world goes mobile, bill payment is also finding its place therein, leading to convenience and ease. Doxo first launched their iOS app when it began in 2011 and they launched their Android app in 2012.

Doxo Bill PaymentThe service which enables receipt and payment of bills with one account and password from a mobile app is called doxoPAY. Instead of logging on to different websites for paying bills for different service providers, having to remember the credentials for each of these websites, one account can help enable the users to manage their bills from their digital filing cabinet and to pay their bills.

Since they began, they have been working on to expand the list of supported service providers. To date, they have added nearly 30000 companies to the list. This includes public utilities, phone carriers, insurance, internet, etc. Typically, bill payment involves receipt of the bill, reading it and then making the payment. Doxo’s bill payment solution has the pay option embedded in the bill itself.

Bills can be uploaded to the digital cabinet for storing them, by taking their snaps and can be backed up to cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Google Drive. Unlimited amount of documents can be received from service providers, while there is a limitation of 500MB per month for uploads. The app can also be used for organizing email accounts such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL. Doxo also offers services to businesses which would enable them to provide a digital filing cabinet to their customers.

Total users of Doxo exceed 1 million across US and they expect 50% visits via mobile phones in 2014. Doxo is new in the market and has a long way to go. With more service providers added, usage will also increase and due to the convenience of the customers and cost savings, companies may also get added to Doxo’s list of supported service providers, which will ensure further improvements and growth.

Jan 012014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

In my last article I wrote about Mobile Photo Bill Bay, launched by Mitek Systems. There is another company which says “tell your bills to say cheese”. It is Allied Payment Network, which launched an app called PicturePayto pay bills in seconds.

The technology is similar, so how could both of these companies work in the same market with the same technology without patenting it? I found that the photo bill pay technology has been patented by Mitek Systems and the app PicturePayis powered by Mitek.

PicturePay(TM)

Allied Payment Network has allied with Malauzai Software for the SmartApp, on which this service runs. Coupled with Allied Payment Network’s advanced payments processing capabilities, PicturePaydoes a great job in helping pay bills in seconds. All one has to do is point to the bill, click a picture, enter the amount and pay. This service is available for direct customers, as well as financial institutions including banks and credit unions, who can adopt this app into their financial framework.

Allied Payment Network is doing all it can for the success of this product and it has received tremendous response. It has partnered with ACI Worldwide, a leading international provider of electronic bill payment and banking systems, to offer same-day bill payment service. Payments on PicturePaytypically take 1-3 days after submission, but with the introduction of same-day bill payment, it can be done on the same day; of course, at a premium. Customers whose bills are due and they want to avoid fines can use this service. For those who can wait a day can opt for next-day bill payment service.

Allied Payment Network announced that PicturePayis available to any financial institution as a standalone app. According to a press release, there has been a 17% month over month increase in PicturePay end users and 13% monthly growth in the number of bills processed by PicturePay. Allied Payment Network also announced a reseller partnership with Access Softek, which will ensure introduction of PicturePay to more than 350 banks and credit unions across the US. 15 financial institutions have already adopted PicturePay including Texas-based First Financial Bank, which is first in the list.

Dec 242013
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Shopping has been traditionally limited to stores, where customers walked in, chose products and checked out after paying for them. Then came the online shopping sites, where customers chose products, paid using their credit/debit cards and the merchandise was delivered to their homes.

UK retailer Tesco launched this unique way of shopping, which they called “virtual store”. Initially launched in Korea at a subway station, now even UK has it at the Gatwick Airport. It is called a virtual store, because no physical product is available here; it is just bill boards and touch screens.

Tesco's Subway Store

While people wait for their trains at the subway station, they can take a look at the virtual store and if they want to buy a product, they simply need to launch Tesco’s dedicated smartphone app and scan the QR code for that product, select the product and add to the cart. When the shopping is complete, payment is done through the same app which, which happens in a securely. The products purchased are delivered to the homes of the shoppers when they return from work.

Similarly, at the Gatwick Airport, people going on a holiday shop for products and make the payments using Tesco’s app, and the merchandise is delivered to their homes when they return from the holiday.

Many other companies adopted this idea, as it was innovative, as well as convenient. The companies include:

1. Walmart (in collaboartion with Procter & Gamble), which operates a truck which visits several popular locations in New York.

2.  EBAY, which has opened a QR Code shop in London.

3. Sorli, a Spanish retailer, which has established virtual stores at train stations in Spain.

4. 9straatjes (9 Little Streets), an area in Amsterdam, Netherlands where shops have collaborated with PayPal for payments.

5. PayPal, in Singapore, has enabled commuters at 15 subway stations to shop using QR Codes, and pay by logging in to PayPal account or using a credit card.

What customers usually worry about is payments, as they enter their credit/debit card details, passwords, etc. Like the secure payment gateway on a computer, these mobile phone apps use secure networks, which ensure security.

It is already evident that the concept is working successfully. In a few decades, perhaps, each and every bus station, subway station, airport, etc. will have virtual stores.

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