Who killed the e-bill?
January 4, 2007 1:57 PM   Subscribe

How come so many companies seem to be cancelling their e-bill services?

I've recently gotten notifications from two different credit card companies saying that the electronic bill functions they offered are being cancelled, and that they are reverting to paper bills only. I liked the e-bill function. Why are they being cancelled?
posted by askmeanony to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Were you getting the statement by e-mail, or just a message telling you to check your statement online? There are new security in banking rules that may apply here.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:01 PM on January 4, 2007

I have no real data on this, but easing the ability of a credit card holder to pay their bill goes against the biz model of credit card companies, which is to have you paying interest by not paying off your balance in full each month. So, it's not really a big surprise they'd remove this service.

You might check into whether your bank has functions for paying off your credit card electronically. Might not be *quite* as convenient, but perhaps better than snail mail.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:03 PM on January 4, 2007

Which companies are cancelling electronic bill paying?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:09 PM on January 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

It could very well be security related. There are two types of e-bills - real electronic feeds from your biller, and "scraped" bills. Scraped bills typically mean that the bill payment provider uses some piece or pieces of information that you provided to them in order to copy and paste information about your bill into the bill payment system. Sometimes it can be your login into the biller's system, your SSN, other stuff like that.

The recent FFIEC guidelines regarding the security of online transactions has lots of providers of online services scrambling. If a company, after doing an assessment of their online offerings, feels that their existing controls are not sufficient to withstand an audit under the new guidelines, they may well pull online features until they can. The deadline to complete an assessment and at LEAST be well on your way to solving any issues was end December, 06. The timing makes sense.
posted by ersatzkat at 2:45 PM on January 4, 2007

I don't know if this is related or not. I had 2 different credit cards cancel the ability to pay online. These were department store/gas station type cards, not majors. Turns out after I received a new card for the gas card it has a new bank name on it. Chase now owns the account and I can now pay online throught their site.
posted by illek at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2007

Huh. I don't observe this happening in Canada. I haven't done banking anywhere except online since the late 90s. I don't get any paper bills anymore; I view them all the Web (not in my email.) If anything I see this being promoted more and more here.
posted by loiseau at 3:34 PM on January 4, 2007

Perhaps it's a way to get people to go back to paper & mailing checks, which is also a nice way for them to ding you for late fees. I've read about shrinking grace periods, late bill mailings, and folks getting more & more charges.

I wouldn't put it past the credit card companies to do something evil but profitable for them,
posted by drstein at 3:36 PM on January 4, 2007

I have to imagine this is a move to screw the cardholder, since every other institutional payee encourages automated/online transactions.

Most banks let you set up automatic recurring payments anyhow, so it's not that big of a deal in practical terms.
posted by adamrice at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2007

Discover cancelled eBilling but will still deliver my statement online.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:15 PM on January 4, 2007

I haven't experienced this either. If anything, I had another bank add the ability to view bills and pay online. I won't do business with companies that don't let me pay online.

I just wonder what the cost is of mailing out the bills and then dealing with processing the checks. I'm sure the ads and flyers in the envelope offset some of that, but damn.
posted by birdherder at 5:30 PM on January 4, 2007

Discover cancelled eBilling but will still deliver my statement online.

Discover still allows me to pay online, and not only that, they have one of the best interfaces to do so. Not sure why you can't pay through the website.
posted by qwip at 5:37 PM on January 4, 2007

This is pretty easy to answer -- it costs too much.

* Running a server/database farm can get expensive and technically difficult.
* Security is a risk.
* Outsourcing billing fulfillment services is cheap, easy and, if it's not literally more secure, it sure feels that way to the uninformed.
* Speaking of the uninformed, while the vast majority of us MeFites are comfortable paying bills online, think about your parents, and your parents' parents. Only a very small percentage of total transactions are conducted online.

Somewhere, some MBA type did a cost-benefit analysis and online billing came up short.

Now, whether that's short-sighted is another question...
posted by frogan at 5:45 PM on January 4, 2007

I'd add something else to frogan's excellent list: credit card company CSRs aren't going to know how to help you if their website has gone belly-up. The training it would take to make CSRs web-savvy would be overwhelming, and they're probably tired of people calling in with website problems that their CSRs can't answer.

Bank of America has online pay but they've reduced functionality to reduce the amount of payments you can make online. Soon, I expect it will be completely removed.
posted by smashingstars at 7:30 PM on January 4, 2007

I'm assuming you're talking about the "Pay my water bill online" services, not the "Pay this credit card bill online" service.

Pretty much what everyone else said. It's expensive, security regulations have changed (ie: there are actually some security regulations now).

Plus I don't need an additional service to pay any of my other bills on line, they already have and maintain their own services, and it would be bad business for the CC company to duplicate them.

I'm pretty sure they only created this service as a marketing tool, it was never making money for them. Since there is no longer much markeing value in the service they are pulling the plug.
posted by Ookseer at 7:42 PM on January 4, 2007

Response by poster: I'm referring to major credit cards sending an electronic bill (happens to be through my online bank, but I guess if it weren't, it would be to my email) rather than sending a physical bill through the mail. There's nothing I hate more than getting bills and junk mail in the mail that I then have to physically tear up. Maybe it's because I'm a weakling and those envelopes are tough to rip. Maybe it's because Capital One got my address and sends me ten offers a day. I don't know. But I'm pretty sad that my mail pile will be increasing in the future. And, notwithstanding the price of servers and the malicious intent of credit companies, I personally think it's really weird any time that technology like that goes backward.
posted by askmeanony at 8:12 PM on January 4, 2007

I almost forgot something...

Paper billing is a source of revenue! Yes, 'tis true. Today's bills include all sorts of marketing inserts from the company or the company's clients. Pay your bill ... and buy some life insurance, credit protection, etc. Heck, I get ads for gold coins and luggage in some of my bills.

Online billing doesn't have the same revenue potential (although it could, certainly ... but it don't). So, score another one for moving back to paper.
posted by frogan at 9:10 PM on January 4, 2007

I haven't experienced any change in the services which I use ebilling with.
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2007

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