November 21, 2007, 12:00 AM

eBillme makes it easier for online consumers to pay the bill

Consumers now can set up eBillme as the payee in their online bill-pay systems and then pay any merchant that accepts eBillme. Previously, they had to set up each merchant as a payment recipient.

 

Responding to consumer requests, ModaSolutions has changed its eBillme system so that a consumer can set up eBillme as the payment recipient in their online bill-pay system, then use that payee to pay any e-retailer that accepts the payment method. Previously, each online retailer had to be set up as a payee for the consumer to use eBillme.

“That came straight from consumers that use eBillme,” says Marwan Forzley, president and CEO of ModaSolutions, the provider of the eBillme technology. He says focus group participants repeatedly asked for the change so that it would be easier to use the system that lets consumers pay for online purchases through their bill payment provider.

As consumers become aware of the change, it should make eBillme more appealing, says John Congdon, chief information officer at BowlingBall.com, an online retailer that accepts eBillme along with several other alternatives to credit and debit cards, such as PayPal, Google Checkout and Bill Me Later. Congdon says eBillme accounts for about 1% of his sales, and the alternative payment methods together about 15%.

The benefit of eBillme is that, once funds are transferred from the customer’s bank account to the merchant, there is no possibility of a chargeback, as with credit cards, Congdon says. He also believes eBillme appeals to consumers who consider it risky to use credit cards online.

The disadvantage is that not all consumers understand that, after selecting eBillme as the payment option, they have to log onto their online bill payment account and use it to pay for the purchase. Once the funds are transferred, the merchant ships the goods.

Congdon says about 80% of the consumers who choose eBillme follow through with payment. Forzley says anywhere from 50% to 90% of eBillme purchases ultimately are completed across all merchants using the system. He says his company sends out reminders to those who have not paid, at a time set by the retailer. He believes most of those who do not pay are testing out the system and did not intend to make a purchase, including hackers probing to see if they can defraud the system.

For BowlingBall.com, the average purchase using eBillme is $155 to $160, considerably above the site’s average of just over $104. Congdon attributes that largely to the promotion eBillme is offering of $10 off any purchase of $150 or more.

CardinalCommerce Corp., which processes eBillme and other alternative payment methods for BowlingBall.com, says the average eBillme purchase across its merchant base is $300. One reason for that relatively high average order is that eBillme appeals to owners of small businesses who otherwise would pay by check, says Matt McDowell, vice president of merchant services at CardinalCommerce.

ModaSolutions does not report how many merchants use eBillme or transaction volume for the payment method. Merchants pay 1-2% of the purchase amount on an eBillme transaction, depending on their volume. CardinalCommerce estimates that an eBillme transaction is on average 60% cheaper for a merchant than a credit card purchase.

 

 

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