ENGLEWOOD, Colo., April 26, 1999 — They waste 600 million pounds of paper each year, kill 600,000 trees and fill 900,000 cubic yards of landfill, the equivalent of 355 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Yet, today, paper bills are still mandatory for almost anyone who has a mortgage, uses credit, or wants to supply their home with such basics as electricity, water or a telephone.
But don’t blame the billers. Until now, there hasn’t been a reasonable alternative. GTE Corp., one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies, sends nearly 200 million bills annually, which adds up to 5.8 million pounds of paper, or several thousand trees. Recently, GTE and several other prominent billers began testing a revolutionary new service that will transform the paper billing process, just as ATMs have changed the way we do our banking.
The new service is “e-bills,” or Internet-based bill delivery and payment. This summer, TransPoint, a joint venture of Microsoft Corp., First Data Corp. and Citibank, plans to launch its e-bills service through a variety of Web sites, offering convenience and savings to consumers and salvation to trees.
E-bills contain the same level of detail as the paper bills consumers find in their mailboxes today, but they are rendered electronically and found at a designated choice of Web sites. With e-bills, there is no need for special software – users need only a 3.0-level Internet browser or higher. To access e-bills, consumers will log on to their choice of a general purpose Web site, bank site, or e-bills provider site. Once users have selected the e-bills icon and entered identification, a list of their bills will appear.
The advantages of using TransPoint e-bills include paying bills as late as 5 p.m. the day before bills are due and setting designated payment dates. This is especially helpful when consumers go on vacation; they can set the date of payment before they leave and not worry about their bills accumulating or going unpaid while they’re gone.
Also, security and privacy are carefully safeguarded. TransPoint e-bills will be secured with the highest level of technology available-encryption equal to that used by the U.S. Department of Defense. TransPoint also adheres to a strict privacy code that prohibits the use or sale of consumer information to any outside party.
As this new technology demonstrates, what is good for consumers can also be good for the environment. National Arbor Day, on April 30, serves as a reminder that e-bills can help consumers save nearly a million trees each year while also saving themselves time and money.