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To: Michael Olds who wrote (315)11/12/2001 2:22:52 PM
From: tech101  Read Replies (1) of 326
 
Electronic Billing

Anthrax Scare Spikes Interest in Already Surging E-Billing

5 November 2001
Avivah Litan

Recent anthrax cases further heightened the trend toward consumers viewing and paying bills electronically. However, high costs and inconvenience still keep some from adopting this technology.

Recent anthrax cases further heightened the trend toward consumers viewing and paying bills electronically. However, high costs and inconvenience still keep some from adopting this technology.

Event

On 5 November 2001, Gartner reported a large increase in the number of consumers signed up for e-billing applications in 2001:

By the end of 2001, Gartner forecasts that 32 million Americans will view credit card and other statements online, a 60 percent increase over the 20 million who did so at the end of 2000.
Nearly 27 million of these consumers will view their credit card accounts online. Gartner expects the number of consumers viewing bills and accounts electronically to reach 64 million by year-end 2003.
Although the spike largely stems from the increasing popularity of online e-billing, some Gartner clients report a 20-percent increase in consumer enrollment since the anthrax scare began in September 2001.
First Take
Mail safety concerns raised by recent anthrax scares encourage consumers and billers to pursue e-billing and payment channels more aggressively. Even without these concerns, Gartner has found that e-billing has finally started to take off in 2001. One major factor unrelated to recent events is that credit card issuers have succeeded in attracting consumers to online account management by giving them value-added services such as daily balances and responsive self-service.

According to a recent Gartner survey, consumer preferences differ when choosing how to receive and access bills online. Options for service range from e-bill aggregation services offered by banks, brokerage firms, and popular portals such as America Online, Yahoo and Quicken.com. More than 48 percent of consumers prefer going to their billers' Web sites directly to access and pay bills while 24 percent prefer to receive a consolidated set of bills at their banks' Web sites.

The billers have done the best job in providing easy-to-use services, while banks and other service providers that aggregate consumer bills still have a long way to go in providing comparably easy services. Although recent events provide customers with more reasons to start accessing their bills online, the barriers to getting started, especially with aggregated e-billing services, remain too high for most consumers.

The anthrax scare has heightened interest in a market already poised to take off. The e-billing market has a long way to go before it replaces all consumer billing paper, but consumers recently have shown their enthusiasm for signing up for biller-direct systems. Banks and other second-party billers need to make their bill aggregation and payment services just as easy to use as the biller-direct systems before they can enjoy similar success with consumers.

Analytical Source: Avivah Litan, Financial Services Payment Systems

Written by Dean Lombardo, gartner.com
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