Union Bank of California has partnered with Metavante, a Milwaukee-based financial tech company, to offer an EBPP service to the San Francisco-based bank's commercial accountholders.
The idea is to "get out there with a product to be ready when our customers are ready" to accept EBPP, said Lew Taub, senior vice president for commercial product management and development at $36 billion UBOC. Municipalities and utility companies are the first users of the service, which was introduced in September.
Metavante's bill service provider solution was previously known as Derivion, after the Atlanta-based company of the same name that Metavante acquired in June 2001.
Under the partnership agreement with UBOC, Metavante presents bills from the bank's commercial customers-a gas company or municipality, for example-to consumers via e-mail. The e-mail contains a URL for consumers to view, print, save or pay bills. Customers indicate which account to deduct at the time they enroll.
UBOC effectively acts as the back-office, using the ACH to process payments.
Users aren't required to bank with UBOC, and commercial customers don't need to host their own Web sites; they can use a third-party hosting service instead.
Metavante helps identify potential EBPP customers for UBOC, said Hans Myklebust, vice president of electronic presentment and payment at Metavante. High-volume businesses or those with an established online presence and Internet-savvy customers are ideal candidates.
Metavante also educates companies about EBPP's marketing potential.
Companies can run banner ads on their Web sites that link to an enrollment form, for example, or set up ticket-buying services that consumers can access via their bill payment sites.
"It's a very dynamic use, as opposed to being a static bill," Myklebust said.
UBOC's partnership with Metavante involves a minimum of risk, with the bank able to expand its EBPP offerings with little start-up investment, Taub said.
And while consumers have been slow to embrace EBPP, the bank expects its popularity to grow. Across the financial industry, about one-third of consumers are using some form of electronic monthly payment.
Eventually Union Bank of California may add functionality to the service or evolve it into an account aggregation service, though Taub said it's too early to make predictions.
"We have to see where this will take us," he said. "Discussions about converting paper to electronic have been around for some time but were short on actions."