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Why Consumers Want to Buy Software as a Service (Part II of II)

Now that I have given my spiel about why consumers (myself included) want to purchase software as a service and will pay good money to do so, I will throw out an example of one product that I would like to see someone build for me. The product that I want someone to build and offer to me as a service is bill presentment. I know that there are companies (most notably PayTrust and their PayMyBills service — I also hear that Wells Fargo has a newly-launched service) providing this service, but there are a few things that people haven’t grasped about the way in which this service should be marketed and packaged.

I am looking for a very simple product. I really want the ability to do the following:

  • Receive my bills as a PDF via email or website – I would like to receive all of my bills in electronic format. Ideally, I would like to get an HTML email message that looks like an invoice delivered to the email address of my choice. If this is not possible, a PDF attachment would be acceptable. In the worst of all worlds, I would be willing to have all of my electronic bills posted to a website and receive notification when new bills are posted. In 2003 I should no longer have to receive paper bills in the mail

  • Review and approve my bill – Once I have received my bills, I want the ability to review, dispute, and approve my bills. This all needs to happen in email (preferred) or via a centralized website. For the security conscious out there, it would be nice if I could approve and digitally sign my approval of a bill to signify that I approved of all charges. For any disputes, the thread of our interaction would be logged for customer service or future follow-up.

  • Pay directly via my choice of payment options – Once I have approved my bills, I want the ability to pay the approved bills using my preferred payment option (likely to be my checking account). Once the bills are paid, I would like to be able to file them in an electronic file cabinet, save them on my hard drive, and/or download the specifics into my favorite financial management program.

As with any easy-to-articulate solution, there are a few partial solutions, including:

  • Bank-based Bill Payment – I currently use a bank-offered bill payment solution. This is great for bill payment (it allows me to set up recurring bill payments and to easily add payees), but I still have to manage paper bills and get all of that info into my computer.

  • Credit card-based Bill Payment – I constantly get solicitations to pay more of my bills by having them directly debited to my credit card or debit card. I don’t want anyone charging me for goods and services until I have had a chance to approve the charges. Also, the idea of putting everyday bills on my credit card is not appealing when I am more comfortable paying them by check.

The last thing that I will say is that I have a very particular way in which I would like to buy this service. I would like to have it marketed to me by a trusted partner (my bank or other financial service provider) and by many of my leading service providers (mobile phone companies, utilities, cable providers, etc.) to reinforce that they are ready to accept payments from said service.

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