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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 11, 2011 • Issue 11:07:01

Electronic billing for SMBs

When Christian Murray joined ePaySpot as President in May 2011, it was to launch a new company. At that point, the core software behind this startup had completed early stage marketing to merchants with encouraging results. The web-based invoicing and billing system was ready to roll out to small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) on a much larger scale through reseller channels.

For Murray, whose payments industry experience has spanned 15 years, most recently as National Director of Business Development for Global eTelecom Inc., the attraction was twofold. First, he saw tremendous growth potential in electronic billing and invoicing. Second, he appreciated the benefits the product brings to SMBs.

"What attracted me to launch this company was the ability to have a wide-open market and be able to bring a product to market that was designed for small and mid-size merchants," he said. "It really gives them the tools and technology to automate their whole billing process.

"That's what really attracted me was the growth of bill pay, in general, and then bringing a product to market that was non-rigid, non-archaic and was very simple to use, and easy for the merchants to improve and streamline their billing methods." The problem with existing electronic billing systems is that most tend to focus on high-volume, larger organizations, he added.

Selling points

The ePS gateway allows merchants to process single or recurring payments using credit and debit card and automated clearing house (ACH) check payments, which Murray said is a benefit because some electronic billing systems accept credit cards, but not all take ACH.

With ePS, merchants can import or export files into existing software and Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks. After merchants upload their client lists, they can start generating electronic billings through email, with invoices attached. When customers receive an electronic invoice, they simply click to pay and are directed to log in and authorize payment and accept a convenience fee, which merchants may charge to offset the cost of processing bills online. Murray said that once a customer has registered and entered payment information, ePS supports tokenization, so the same payment option may be selected to pay future invoices without the need to reenter information. "It's more secure, and there is less opportunity for sensitive payment information to be transmitted," he noted.

The consumer-initiated payment component allows customers to initiate payments without an invoice or bill. Nonprofit organizations can use this feature by providing a web link that enables donors to submit individual contributions or schedule them over time.

Murray suggested that for more expensive items, merchants can say to their customers, "You have two options. I can send you an electronic bill and you can click on it, register and pay me. Or, you can go to my website, click on the link that says, 'Sign up for our bill pay,' and literally send me the payment." According to Murray, not a lot of providers have the latter option.

Reseller advantages

In today's commodity-driven payments sphere, where margins are shrinking, Murray said ePS gives ISOs an opportunity to board higher volume merchants. "Those types of merchants, when they implement this type of software, don't tend to leave very easily," he said. "They're longer term clients."

Murray believes some payment professionals "will find niches in property management or different types of market segments, but they need the technology and tools to get into some of those." He also said ePS "opens up the average agent's opportunity to sell into more verticals and to be more successful and drive more revenues."

Niche markets for ePS include property management, real estate, business-to-business services, maintenance, utilities, nonprofits, universities and schools, local government agencies, to name several. EPS is seeking agents to market its online payment system to merchants who bill their customers. end of article

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