May 112015
 
Power lines

Automatic bill payers consume more electricity.

The Wall Street Journal reports that electricity consumers who use automatic bill pay actually use more electricity each month, and pay higher bills. Dr. Steven Sexton, an economics professor at Duke University, conducted a huge study in which he evaluated the electricity bills of Santee Cooper customers (a South Carolina electric company) over sixteen years. He found that automatic bill payers use between 4% and 9% more energy each month.

Automatic bill pay is safe and obviously convenient. Millions of people pay their electric bills automatically each month, sight unseen. And therein lies the problem. With regular snail-mail bills, you have to open them up, look at the bill amount, and write a check. You know how much you pay each month. If the bill seems high, you might scrutinize your energy usage and work on bringing it down.

With automatic bill pay you don’t even see the bill, so you’re not in tune with how much you’re paying each month. You end up using more each month because you’re simply not aware.

Sexton found that the biggest rise in consumption with automatic bill payers came with new customers and commercial users. The new customers are presumably young and not financially experienced.

I’m not suggesting that automatic bill pay consumers go back to using dead trees (paper bills). But you should make it a point to look at your bill online and review your electricity consumption. You might save more than a few dollars each month.

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.

Jun 192014
 

By Mohammed Waseem

Residents of Ireland can pay bills online with MyBills, which supports 114 billers across Ireland, which include utilities, financial corporations, charities, mobile operators, etc.

Their one-off payment feature is unique, which is not available with most bill payment services. It allows users to pay a bill without registering for an account with MyBills. In order to pay a bill, the customer account number and a debit card are required. Registered users can setup bills for payments and select the payment method. They can also setup automatic recurring payments and schedule them. In addition, they can view historic payments and review paid bills.

MyBills

MyBills

MyBills is a service provided by An Post and is not charged any fee. Users can set up maximim 2 cards on their account to pay bills from them. They can request for more cards by contacting the Help deslk. Users can also pay a part of the amount and pay the remaining amount later; each biller has a maximum and minimum amounts payable, though.

Once the payment is made, it can not be cancelled, the users should carefully enter the account number and decide whether they want to pay or not. MyBills does not support credit card payments, so users should pay bills using a debit card or a bank account.

This form can be used for registering with MyBills and for starting to pay bills.

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.

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