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As does the military, business loves its acronyms. A common acronym bandied about in the world of e-commerce is EBPP, which stands for Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment. That impressive sounding title is really just a fancy way of describing how companies bill and collect from customers via the Internet.
As with many things business these days, the Internet is the medium of choice when choosing methods of financial tracking and transactions. E-commerce is popular, responsive, and powerful. So is EBPP.
This method of billing and collecting can take two distinct forms: direct and consolidated. The direct form of EBPP is a one-to-one transaction structure, whereby a company does the billing itself through its own website or another company's site. It's not the website that matters so much as the company doing the billing. The consolidated form of EBPP involves a sort of electronic collection agency, which does billing for a group of companies and then presents those bills to an individual customer for payment. The focus is on the many-to-one relationship, with transactions conducted via a website.
An excellent example of the consolidated form of EBPP is online bill payment. Many of the larger financial institutions offer online bill payment for their customers. A user can, with several clicks of a mouse and a few keystrokes, pay a large variety of bills, such as the phone bill, the electric bill, the car payment, the rent, the medical bills, and the ISP bill.
A good example of the direct form of EBPP is a credit card company's website, which offers online payment for debtors' accounts. A user can log on to the website and schedule a credit card payment via banking information already entered. This is a one-to-one relationship.
However, if the user has two credit cards from the same lender, then he or she can schedule payments for both credit cards at the same time on the same website during the same Web session. When that happens, the credit card company's web presence has crossed over into consolidated EBPP territory. In this way, a website can use both forms of EBPP: direct and consolidated.
Many websites that offer online bill payments also offer email reminders of payments. This is the presentment part of EBPP. Such email reminders can also be used for traditional paper payments.
Many websites that offer online bill payments also offer information download options, so that users can keep copies of their online transactions on their own PCs. Common download formats include Quicken, Quickbooks, Excel, and CSV. EBPP is also convenient for financial institutions in that it allows for computerized tracking and assimilation of transaction data at lightning-quick speeds. Electronic bill-keeping can eliminate the need for paper records, which saves a financial institution both time and money.
Historically, organizations with high-volume billing have used a ‘pull’ method or portal based approach to EBPP where billers 'deliver' their bills electronically by posting them on a website and sending an email notification to the customer. This traditional ‘pull' process is convenient for the biller - but cumbersome and inconvenient for the customer.
‘Push’ email delivery increases customer activity. Unlike an online bill pay portal where customers must proactively enroll, with the push system, billers are in control of customer adoption and customers click once to opt-in or out.