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What to Look for in an Online Bill Presentment and Payment Service

April 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 164

Online bill presentment and payment services are offered by not only many major billers and large banks nowadays but also by a range of smaller innovative financial services companies. All of these services claim to be broadly equivalent, with each of them offering a variety of bill presentment, management and payment features to make a consumer's life apparently simpler and more efficient. However, these different services vary greatly in what they offer and in some cases the features they claim to have are not at all equivalent. A consumer therefore needs to take care to ensure that he or she selects the service that is most likely to fill his or her needs and in this brief article we therefore offer some hints on what to look for.

Below are what we see to be the main criteria by which any consumer should ideally evaluate any online bill presentment and payment service.

Bill Presentment

Bill presentment means the ability to see a bill in an online system of some kind. For most services this means either being able to see the bill in an email attachment (usually as a PDF) which is not really an online rendering at all (as it is just an electronic version of a paper bill). Some services offer a single line item bill view ahead of paying it. This is useful but far short of a full bill presentment. As a result, the most advanced services are offering a full digital bill which is one that is not only supplied in its entirety (even if it runs to several pages) but can be saved, sent on/forwarded or clicked on to effect payment.

Bill Management

Bill management features aim to keep a consumer on target for paying bills on time (or even early). A good service-provider should offer different alerts (ideally both email and/or SMS texts) that tell a consumer when his or her bills arrive, are due, are paid and are overdue/late (and in some cases the consumer can choose when and how to get these alerts). In addition, the consumer should always be able to view the details of the bill regardless of its format. Other useful features to look out for include a bill payment calendar and online notes. In the most sophisticated services bill storage is unlimited meaning that the consumer can store his or her bills indefinitely.

Payment Features

Good online bill paying services will often include a variety of payment features. However, many banking services may only offer bill payment from a checking account and large billers with online bill pay portals may only allow ACH and the major credit cards. The independent services are therefore more likely to offer much greater payment choice, and in some cases payment by online wallet, instant bank transfer and even cash (as well as almost all available credit and debit cards). A good service may also allow a consumer to choose which payments he or she wants to make each month individually and which he or she wants paid automatically (with a controlled payment like a direct debit).

Ease of Use/Setup

Apart from the site being user-friendly, online bill presentment and payment services at a given portal should be easy to set up and use, otherwise they don't provide the convenience they promise. This should ideally mean the ability to pay a bill as a guest or first time visitor without registration on the service. And if a consumer does register, the system should remember as much data as has already been entered and the consumer should not be required to enter his or her payee and/or account information more than once.

Admin and Reporting convenience

Although consumers mainly pay their bills one at a time, they may want to more than this. A site which allows this functionality (and needs only one login and password for many bills) therefore has an advantage. This should include lots of analysis and reporting capabilities, looking at historical cumulative bill payments, aggregate data and even overall spend totals that may well be useful when it comes to end of year tax returns.

Service availability/Help/Support

Look for a service that is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week because most consumers will wish to pay bills outside normal office hours. There should also be good customer service support offered, both with available documentation and FAQ's and a free call number when a consumer needs to talk to a customer service representative.

There are clearly other criteria that may well apply to choosing an online bill presentment and payment portal but these are the main categories under which a consumer can evaluate each service that is offered.

This article was written by Dr Jon Warner of Payswyft (at ). Jon has extensive senior executive experience and has led organizations in a variety of industries through significant transitions to achieve bottom-line results. He is an expert in developing and implementing strategies in operations, marketing, sales, and corporate turnarounds. Jon is currently CEO of PaySwyft in the UK (an innovative on-line billing and payment business) and Chairman of WCOD (a management consulting and publishing business). He can be reached at

Source: EzineArticles
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