E-billing trend on its way to Canada

E-billing will soon “cross the chasm” and become a more recognized way in which enterprises send bills to their customers in Canada, according to Peter Melanson, CEO and president of electronic post office epost.

Melanson, speaking at the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday as part of its Talking Technology series, told an audience that Canada is in the early adoption phase of implementing e-billing.

Melanson said U.S. trends, which usually take 12 to 18 months to surface in Canada, signal that e-billing is taking off with projected user numbers in the neighbourhood of 25 million by 2005, according to a Jupiter Research-conducted study.

Avivah Litan, Stamford, Conn.-based vice-president of financial services with Gartner Inc. agreed, saying her firm is projecting that 100 million consumers will be utilizing e-billing in the U.S. by 2005.

“It’s very true to say that this market is taking off,” she said. “It’s the fastest growing financial application out there.”

Toronto-based epost, a public/private partnership between Canada Post Corp., Bank of Montreal and Telus Corp., is the first electronic post office in the world, Melanson said.

Research conducted by epost found that Canadian enterprises would be interested in e-billing if it helped them save time in sending out billing, improved customer relationship management (CRM) and working capital.

In the U.S., about 65 per cent of companies post their customer billing statements online, but customers have been slow to access them because sign up is considered difficult, Litan said. Gartner found that 30 per cent of U.S. online users access credit card bills via the Internet, while 21 per cent view telco bills, only six per cent view utility and insurance bills, and 13 per cent view financial loan statements online.

For more information on its speaker series, the Toronto Board of Trade can be found at http://www.bot.com.