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Competition Heats Up For Electronic Bill Payments

The next year will be a significant one for electronic bill presentment and payment if developments of the past few months are any indication. And it appears there is definitely a market. Internet research firm Jupiter Communications Inc. projects the number of households that will pay bills through the Internet will jump tenfold by 2003 to 18 million.

Among other recent developments, a Web-based bill-paying company that already offers services similar to Spectrum and AOL/Intuit was recently honored for its efforts and will be getting a big financial boost to expand its range., which we've mentioned before in this newsletter, was named the Editor's Pick for Best Banking Service in the December issue of PC Computing magazine. Billers send their bills by paper or electronic means to Paytrust, which posts them on the Web for the customer, who chooses how and when to pay them.

Paytrust also offers a new feature that combines a consumer's bank account information with Paytrust bill-paying information so users can balance their checkbooks.

Though the company does not already have the millions of customers AOL has, it has only been in business since last June and has over 20,000 registered customers who have paid over 50,000 bills. In December, the company also received a significant financial benefit when financial services companies and some of the nation's largest billers announced that they have invested $30 million in the company. Contributors include American Express, Goldman Sachs, GE Equity, and others.

New Payment Options for Postal Customers
The Postal Service announced that customers who use debit cards to pay for postage can now get cash back of up to $50 at any of its 33,000 post office locations.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department launched a test in Baltimore of placing automated teller machines in post offices. Treasury's efforts are aimed at providing financial services in communities and areas that are underserved. The pilot ATMs will accept credit and debit cards and provide access to Maryland's electronic benefits transfer services so users can get benefit payments via electronic means.

Postal Rate Increase Coming

Look for a possible one-cent increase in first >
The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service filed for an increase from 33 to 34 cents with the Postal Rate Commission, and said it would likely take effect in 2001. It takes about 10 months for action on a rate case.

Copyright © 2000 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 10, No. 3, 3/00

First published on 03/01/2000

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