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Business vs consumer online bill payment

November 10, 2008

One of the primary questions we get asked is “Why Bill.com when I have online bill pay from my bank”? It’s a great question with a fairly straightforward answer—most online bill payment systems are designed for consumers, not businesses, and the differences are significant enough to make it really time consuming and risky to use.

Some differences between business and consumer needs that we hear all the time:

Business bill payment involves more people. At a minimum the business owner and the accountant. In larger companies, as many as 20% of the people in the company have purchasing authority and need to approve the bills they incur. 
In the consumer model, there is one and only one user – consumers delegate this task to one person in the household. Businesses can’t delegate this because of the controls necessary to insure all spending is valid and appropriately authorized. Bill.com was designed to streamline the approval process while providing the financial controls that allow users who should never go near a checkbook or online banking system to still be part of the process.

Business bill payment involves a lot more paper. Business people approve payments by looking at contracts, past invoices (to see if there are duplicates), and even examining when the last payment cleared. All of this is paper-intensive and involved more than simply the paper generated by the biller, which is the most that any consumer online bill payment system provides. 
Bill.com provides a central repository to digitally store all of this “paper”. Related documents are linked together in this repository, making it easy for business people to quickly get the information they need.

Business bill payment involves a lot more transactions from varied sources. A consumer account typically has 10 recurring bills from the same vendors every month. A typical business has many more vendors, some that are seasonal and others that are just one-time. 
Bill.com was designed to handle a high level of transactions, and makes it easy to manage and transact with a large group of vendors while synching all of the activity back with the core accounting system.

Don’t get us wrong, consumer online bill payment is great. We all use it. And, large enterprises have systems that handle many of the issues above. But for the small and mid-size business, there hasn’t been a great solution.

Are you a small or mid-size business struggling with these issues? Let us know what you think!

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