Funny coincidence. I was sitting at my desk speaking with a co-worker who was upset that her rent check didn't yet clear. She thought she had given herself enough time but sure enough, the check is just sitting somewhere and hasn't appeared on her (online) bank statement. At that point, she said she just didn't understand why she couldn't pay her landlord electronically. I heartily agreed with her.About five minutes later, I was perusing my news haunting grounds on the Web and ran across this article on the CNN/Money website. Apparently MoneyGram, a good-sized nonbank competitor along the lines of WesternUnion, is purchasing a company that enables landlords to receive electronic rent payments from tenants, among other services.
What is to stop banks from offering such a service? Maybe there are banks in this country that do. If so, I'd love to hear about it. I just think this is one of those missing links that would further drive electronic payments in this country. For myself, if it weren't for my rent, I wouldn't have to write any checks at all (except for the occasional birthday, graduation, wedding gift, etc.). Why isn't the rent payment gap being closed? Who are the players that need to be involved? How would a bank convince a landlord that there is a good business case for their enabling tenants to pay them electronically?
There has to be a model out there to allow such a function. There is so much technology in place today that I'm hesitant to say this is holding banks back from offering e-rent payments. Maybe I'm wrong. But just imagine how appealing this feature would be to a large segment of consumers in this country who have to pay rent. The benefits to landlords are great too since they wouldn't have to handle paper checks any longer. Sure, there will always be those holdouts who for one reason or another choose not to pay their rent online, but the efficiencies for doing so are clear.Electronic rent payments could provide some banks with a new niche service that will further drive e-payments.