Online Bill Presentment Up for Grabs

More than 15 million US households are expected to receive their bills online by 2002, according to research conducted by Jupiter Communications. Who will play the role of aggregator in this emerging market remains unclear, with both banks and portals well positioned for the task.

Jupiter’s research shows that in the minds of customers, bank Web sites are the natural place for online bills to be consolidated and presented to consumers. But portals have already consolidated many utility functions for online consumers, and bills may be the next step.

“Consumers associate their banks with financial functions,” said Marc Johnson, director of Digital Commerce Strategies for Jupiter. “However, in reality, these bills can be aggregated and presented to consumers by any number of online players, from banks to portals.”

A recent Jupiter/NFO survey of online consumers found that 42 percent would prefer to receive bills from their bank’s Web site more than from other market players, such as personal management software providers (37 percent), America Online (13 percent), portals (7 percent), and brokers (1 percent).

Despite the poll results, Jupiter says portals are the likely challengers to banks.

“For banks, online bill presentment offers the last chance to drive recurring contact with customers,” Johnson said. “Portals have been very successful delivering utility-based functions, and online bill presentment would provide them with the huge win necessary to capture financial portal status.”

By the end of 1999, Jupiter expects the average US online household will be able to receive three to four monthly bills (29 percent) through online bill presentment. This number should grow to eight monthly bills (65 percent) in 2002, with utilities and telecommunications companies already offering bills online.

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