Striata and AcceptEmail delivered two of my favorite demos this week at FinovateEurope. Both are working on ways to help move consumers away from antiquated and wasteful (but easy to use) paper billing and into the 21st century with interactive PDF versions delivered via email (also see ActivePath’s FinovateFall 2010 demo video).
Unlike certain personal finance products which have more intangible benefits, ebilling stands to drive tens of $ billions of wasted expense out of the system while at the same time making consumers’ lives simpler. That’s worth paying attention to.
And I like the Striata/AcceptEmail/Activepath approach. Migrate consumers to an interactive email bill which is far superior to its paper ancestor and is aggregated within a familiar interface, the email client (see note 1). This is the most likely method of gaining mass adoption.
But email inboxes are notoriously messy and over-crowded making it easy to overlook emailed bills (note 2). So I really like the idea of an ebilling hub, a place where all my bills are stored so I can review the history, communicate with billers, and make sure everything was paid on time (note 3).
That’s why I’ve been following the developments at Doxo; Volly from Pitney Bowes; and Zumbox, which all have very different ideas on how to pull this off. But one thing they’ll all need is payment capabilities. It’s not enough to just view a stack of ebills, you have to be able to complete the task with payment.
So it was good to see Doxo add payments to its ebilling hub this week. The Seattle startup, which moved into public beta late last year (see previous post), now allows users to pay any bill received into the hub (currently only Sprint and KCPL).
Users press the Pay button displayed by the bill in the “to do” section (see first screenshot). A popup screen is used to schedule the payment.
Bottom line: There’s plenty of opportunity here for multiple approaches. Email bills are a pretty safe bet, while the ebill hub is a longer shot. But ultimately, we believe there’s a place for both models.
Doxo’s ebilling hub now includes a Pay button (3 Feb. 2011)
Popup payment-scheduling screen
1. See our recent reports: Paperless Billing and Banking and Email Banking: Revitalizing the Channel.
2. Also at FinovateEurope, Yodlee demoed a clever solution to help organize bills. It’s new app will automatically search your hard drive to find downloaded bills and statements and automatically upload them into the Yodlee PFM where they can be aggregated and stored in the cloud.
3. You can do this with individual billers by logging into their sites, but that is a time-consuming chore best avoided.