TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Pay Bills With a Click? More Americans Are Doing It and Banks Love It

Pay Bills With a Click? More Americans Are Doing It and Banks Love It

Monty Solomon (
Tue, 30 May 2006 00:39:56 -0400

The New York Times

FROM the annals of Online Economics 101 comes this shocker: free is
good, especially when it comes to paying bills.

Big billers like Verizon Wireless and ConEd learned this bit of wisdom
years ago, when they offered customers the ability to pay bills free
online. But most banks have come to the same realization only in the
last 18 months.

The result has been a boom in the number of bills viewed and paid
online. According to a recent poll by Harris Interactive, a research
firm, the gap between the number of bills paid by check and the number
paid online has closed significantly in the past year. More than 37
percent of bills are paid by check; 35 percent are paid online. The
remaining 28 percent are paid with cash, debit cards or other payment

Given that trend, Web payments could surpass checks over the next
year. (Last year, 46 percent of bills were paid by check, and 25
percent online.)

Banks are hoping to accelerate the move by marketing online services
far more aggressively. Television campaigns, radio spots and, of
course, online advertisements from the Bank of America and Wells
Fargo, among others, now promote the benefits of such services, where
in years past banks advertised other features like online statements
and account balances.

The caveat with these numbers is that the Harris poll was commissioned
by CheckFree, which helps banks and billers build online bill
presentment and payment services. But analysts said the data mirrored
other research showing the growing popularity of the service.

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