The Green Sheet Online Edition
March 24, 2008 • Issue 08:03:02
Paperless invoice fast, green, golden
Paper-based invoices are time consuming to produce and expensive to mail out, given the cost of envelopes and postage. On top of that, snail mail takes time, delaying payments for weeks, if not months. In a down economy, with debts rising and margins shrinking, the value proposition of electronic invoices for merchants can be quite appealing.
Your Best Interest LLC, a sub-ISO of United Bank Card Inc., now features greinvoice, an electronic invoice service that can eliminate the issuance of paper invoices for businesses, thereby reducing overhead costs and increasing payment speed and efficiency.
Greinvoice sends invoices to merchants' clients by e-mail. Embedded in the e-mail is a link. When that link is clicked, the invoice pops up on the client's computer screen, enabling immediate payment by electronic check debit or any major credit card.
Once that payment has been processed, greinvoice sends an automated e-mail to both parties confirming the payment has been received and accepted.
Data transmission using greinvoice is protected by 128-bit secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption. Merchant passwords are also encrypted.
Greinvoice was codeveloped by Marc W. Halpert, Managing Member at Fairfield, Conn.-based Your Best Interest, and Geoff Geertsen, Software Developer at Geertsen Holdings Inc. of Bountiful, Utah. Halpert supplied the payments industry expertise; Geertsen designed the software.
According to Geertsen, the procedure for a client to set up electronic invoices is simple and straightforward. After signing on to the service through greinvoice, the client - the administrator for the account - provides a list of customer addresses and a product list, then sets up modules for one-off (one time) or recurring billing, or both.
When it comes time for billing, the software automatically grabs from a table the invoice line items that are applicable to that invoice recipient.
Before an e-mail is sent, the administrator can modify the wording, such as how the recipient will be addressed and the text that is to accompany the clickable link, as well as any other customized marketing or news information that they want the client to know about.
The service is customizable in other ways to include company logos and color schemes, for example.
Halpert said, "The idea here is that the company that is sending the invoice wants every communication they have that goes out to customers to look, taste, feel just like their corporate communications: font color, logo, whatever they want to say. We can customize [greinvoice] any way they want."
Halpert added that greinvoice is highly flexible. "They tell us what line items they typically use for their invoicing," he said. "It sits in a menu for when they want to access [that information] to create a new invoice for that client. Just take it off the menu ... and [the software] puts it into the invoice."
Also, customers can be sent invoices that contain a combination of recurring and one-time transactions. "They can change the way they pay [the invoice] month to month or invoice to invoice," Halpert said. "If they don't have any more room under their corporate credit line, then they might want to use their credit card."
In employing the greinvoice service, clients do not have to use the Modern Payments gateway or have their payments processed through UBC, but Halpert recommends both.
"The product is as good as the vendors behind it," Halpert said. "UBC is a highly technologically capable processor. And we also really rely upon Modern Payments, which is the gateway and the automated clearing house (ACH) originator. So we've got the payments side taken care of; we've got the gateway side taken care of. We want to maintain the quality control that is so essential in invoicing."
The Modern Payments gateway is PCI compliant. All credit card numbers and checking account numbers are truncated on the gateway. According to Halpert, Modern Payments is owned by Zions First National Bank, giving the service an extra layer of protection.
Modern Payments can download invoice data to most business accounting programs, since the data is formatted for comma and tab delimited files (information separated by a comma or a tab), or Excel spreadsheets.
Modern Payments is also working to allow the data to be downloaded to QuickBooks software.
The environmental angle to greinvoice cannot be overlooked. With POS technology now allowing for the printing on both sides of receipt paper (thereby helping to reduce the amount of paper wasted) and processors, as well, utilizing greener servers that reduce energy consumption, it seems appropriate to go green on invoices, too.
"Because we're not using paper, or envelopes or postage or any gasoline or any sort of carbon emission in delivering the product and getting the payment made and paid," Halpert said, "[greinvoice] is hugely green, and it's faster and more efficient [than paper-based invoices].
"Green contractors, wineries ... everybody is going green now and they appreciate the fact that the old way of doing things just doesn't work anymore."
Halpert noted that in addition to eliminating the growing expense of envelopes and postage, "we've eliminated all of the waste; there's no trash.
"There's nothing to recycle. Recycling's fine, but the less you have to recycle, the better off we all are."
Greinvoice charges an upfront fee to set up the service: design, uploading of line items, testing and delivery of customized invoices. Pricing is tied to the number of invoices to be sent out: The greater the volume, the more greinvoice charges.
But, according to Halpert, at 100 invoices per month, the cost per invoice is less than the cost of a postage stamp. Additional processing fees and gateway hosting fees also apply.
Halpert said greinvoice is ideal for:
- Web hosting companies
- Technology maintenance companies
- Oil delivery companies
- Propane delivery companies
- Billing for health care providers
- Tuition and other university student fees
Greinvoice was launched in February 2008. It had been in development for two years, with several hundred hours of behind-the-scenes brainstorming and testing by Halpert and Geertsen.
For six years, according to Halpert, Your Best Interest has helped companies, e-commerce sites and nonprofits improve their cash flow using new technologies, while at the same time reducing time costs and administrative expenses.
With businesses facing increasing economic pressures, Halpert, an authorized agent for UBC for the last five years, with over 29 years in the financial services industry, understands the need for electronic invoices.
"There are a lot of people that are out there who are ... worried about what a recession will do to their business, worried about postage going up on May 12, worried about paper costs going sky high, and just the administrative effort.
"I was talking to a woman today who cannot wait to get this product because she doesn't now have to hire a temp to do her invoicing. So this is going to save [an employee]. It's going to save her administration, taxes, effort, paper, postage. This is so valuable to small-business people."
But Halpert elaborated on the value of greinvoice. "I'm an old corporate treasurer," he said, "so I know that it's not only having money in your hand, but having it in the bank account faster. It's speed, it's velocity and it's collection. And this is going to allow a recipient of an invoice to make a decision right there when they receive the invoice electronically to pay."
Halpert also understands the leverage a value added service such as greinvoice would give ISOs and merchant level salespeople for boarding prospective new merchants and retaining their existing client base.
"If I can provide a service that will make my customer happy, with a unique service that no one else is offering, I, as a salesperson, look better to my customer whether or not it is in the standard way I've been selling to my customer," Halpert said. "Then I'm going to be golden in their point of view."
Your Best Interest LLC
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