The Cheque's in the E-mail

Australian bill payers will be able to receive and pay their bills by e-mail with a service payments solutions provider SecurePay plans to launch next month.

With the first version expected just in time for those pre-Christmas bills, the new Electronic Bills Presentment service will enable businesses to e-mail their bills to their customers and have the transaction securely settled from that e-mail.

Nicholas Smith, SecurePay's managing director, said the process is pretty basic: "like an EFTPOS machine on the Internet".

Councils and utilities are among the organisations that will be able to bill customers via e-mail through SecurePay's software.

Both the business and the individual customer using the new service are fully protected by its security feature, which according to Smith is "the same level as the banks" and includes 128-bit SSL encryption technology.

"If someone hacked into our system, the person could not access the credit card details."

And to stop people trying to use your credit card, SecurePay also applies fraud-checking services.

"When credit card [payment] comes through, it goes through up to 10 checks, for example the payment against the normal amount of spending for that card, and the IP address matches where the card holder comes from.

Smith says this "vastly reduces risk of fraud".

"If a card has been stolen and the owner hasn't [yet] reported it - our system will pick it up," Smith said.

Smith claims the service lets businesses harness the Internet's speed and efficiencies to achieve savings on mailing and handling costs.

According to Smith, the customer can pay easily and securely via credit card straight from the electronically presented bill. Additional features allow them to notify address and detail changes and receive relevant information that organisations need to distribute.

According to SecurePay, if customers wish to receive their bill electronically they visit that organisation's Web site and select the appropriate area, or elect to use the SecurePay Web site. Once registered, they receive their bill electronically and pay by clicking on the payment icon. The payment is then processed in the same way as the current pay by phone or online payment method currently used by SecurePay.

SecurePay currently offers companies, local government and e-merchants secure, real time B2B, B2C and payment services via Internet, telephony and banking networks.

SecurePay is currently in talks with a number of large companies regarding the e-billing capabilities and is planning to roll out to "companies who want it" during December.

SecurePay accepts all major credit cards and hopes to offer direct debit within the next year.

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