Canadian survey shows Internet billing on the rise

Canadians are increasingly feeling comfortable with conducting transactions on the Web. At least that’s how Dushyant Sharma sees it.

Sharma is president and chief technology officer of Markham, Ont.-based e-billing service provider Derivion Corp. A recent study by Derivion revealed that of the 23 per cent of Canadians who pay their bills on-line, nearly two thirds have started in the past 12 months. The Derivion Canadian study is based on a national telephone poll conducted in March among a representative cross-section of 1,500 Canadian adults.

“Our new consumer research shows that Canadians are motivated by the convenience of Internet-based transactions,” Sharma said. “Now that we know the public wants e-billing, we are working with billers to provide the technology they need to deliver bills and receive payments on-line.”

Mark Quigley, senior analyst for the Yankee Group of Canada, said on-line activity is working its way into everyday life.

“If you look at most people, when they start getting on-line it’s typically for things such as sending e-mail and surfing the Web,” Quigley said. “I think the longer people are on-line, the more of a place it begins to play in doing day-to-day things.”

Quigley believes that taking caring of mundane tasks on-line makes sense.

“A lot of the bill payment on-line is through the banks where you can go in and pay Visa (and) MasterCard. I suspect…you’ll start to see the banks beginning to aggregate any number of different billing functions.”

Quigley added that most people attach a little more comfort when dealing with banks, because of the reputation that they provide a secure front-end and back-end for these types of transactions.

Kelly Connelly, customer service specialist for Scotia Bank Online, said approximately 19 per cent of the banks’ clients pay their bills on-line, and that has increased in the last six months.

“I think there’s a lack of trust. I don’t think a lot of people trust the Internet and they feel they might not be as safe paying their bills there as they would be maybe over the phone or in the branches,” Connelly said.

According to the study, when given a choice of methods for making on-line bill payments, 89 per cent of those who pay bills on-line make payments through their bank’s Web site, eight per cent pay bills at the biller’s site, two per cent at a business Web site, such as, and one per cent at an Internet portal, such as Yahoo!

“Even though the United States has more companies set up for e-billing, it seems as if Canadians are more eager to get on-line,” Sharma said. “Derivion’s recently-concluded U.S. consumer study shows that 19 per cent of Americans with Internet access are paying their bills on-line, compared to Canada’s 23 per cent.”

According to Quigley, Canada presents an interesting case when you look at adoption. “If you look at debit card usage in Canada, it’s much more commonplace here than it is in the U.S. That certainly has been helped by the fact that the banking environment in Canada is different than the U.S.,” Quigley said. “I think that it’s a good indication that Canadians are willing to explore new means of doing business and certainly things that help make day-to-day tasks easier.”

According to the survey, 33 per cent of respondents said they have security, trust and privacy issues.

“It’s very much a change in habits that have been formed in ‘X’ number of years,” Quigley said. “There’s still people out there that don’t like using the ATM machine, never mind paying on-line.”