e-Bill consolidates online bill procurement

After delays caused by product defects and ill-preparedness, billing agent e-Bill yesterday launched its "consolidated" internet bill procurement service.

According to general manager Rob Charlton, the internet billing service provider will seek business from companies that send and procure bills to customers of any description.

Claiming his was the only company in Australia to offer entirely internet-based bill procurement, Charlton explained that e-Bill received internet feeds from customer companies, then consolidated their billing details onto a single, secure user site.

Customers of companies partnered with e-Bill receive non-specific billing information via email, which is hyperlinked to e-Bill's website, he said, explaining that users of the service were also required to log into their personalised e-Bill website.

Charlton cited research from US industry analyst Killen & Associates that predicted two-thirds of all North American "repetitive" bill payments would be made via the internet by 2005. However, Charlton's own estimate of Australian internet billing was more conservative. He said e-Bill expected 42 per cent of business customers and 9 per cent of residential customers would seek to conduct their bill payments online within two years.

By eliminating printing and handling costs, billing companies can save 15 per cent of production costs if they move their billing procurement systems to the internet, Charlton claimed.e-Bill intends to attract revenue from partnering companies, which will pay the internet billing agent a percentage of their web-induced cost savings. Charlton said no immediate plans were in place to charge for advertising on e-Bill's website, although he pointed out that customer billing companies were free to post advertisements in page space allocated to their bills. Customer billing companies' logos would remain intact on the e-Bill site, he said.

The company has already secured partnerships with WorldxChange Communications and the 360,000-customer energy company NorthPower. Discussions with Sydney Water and various government billing agencies were also underway, Charlton said.e-Bill is 51 per cent owned by Kodak Australasia. The remainder is owned by private investors such as Macquarie Direct Investments and MGB Equities.

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