Two significant Seattle-based financial startups are gearing up for launch, something I haven’t been able to say since the bubble days. We looked at location-based transaction monitoring company Finsphere last week. Today, we take a peek at Doxo, which is looking to disrupt the ebilling market and bring transactional paper mail into the 21st century.
I met with CEO Steve Shivers and Marketing VP Kevin Frisch last week in their new Pioneer Square office, a nifty location recently vacated by Microsoft. While public details are limited, I’ve had two briefings with the firm and can say that if it works, it could be one of the biggest financial plays in many, many years. Like Finsphere, Doxo is backed by Mohr Davidow Ventures and Bezos Expeditions.
Of course, the ebilling space is littered with failures including many well-funded ventures that pretty much all ended up being acquired by CheckFree (now Fiserv): MSFDC/TransPoint (Microsoft, First Data, and Citibank), Spectrum (Wells Fargo, First Union, and Chase) and Integrion (IBM and 17 banks) to name just a few. And the ebilling service at Fiserv isn’t exactly blowing the doors off, delivering 320 million bills each year (2009), just a sliver of the 40 to 50 billion sent annually in the United States.
All I can say about the startup is that they are creating an online hub where billers can send bills and communicate with customers in a much better way than through snail mail. It’s put together in a way that could really speed estatement adoption. And it’s funded by the billers, who save money immediately by eliminating paper statements to participants.
As demonstrated by the history of failed ebilling ventures, there are huge obstacles to overcome. But the time may be right for ebilling to finally take off. Billers are frustrated with low levels of estatement adoption, consumers are fed up with redundant email and paper communications, and no one wants to waste natural resources (and money) if there’s a viable alternative.
No one has yet figured out how to solve it. Doxo may have the answer. Stay tuned.