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In e-Billing, Which Comes First? Lean or Green?

In e-Billing, Which Comes First? Lean or Green?

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Published by PipelinePublishing

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Published by: PipelinePublishing on Nov 17, 2011
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04/17/2015

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© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
 for informaon about Reprint Services.
In e-Billing, Which ComesFirst? Lean or Green?
By Ed FinegoldE-billing adoption and standardization across Europeis one of the European Commission’s key goals in itsEurope 2020 initiative. Among the benets stated inits report entitled “Reaping the benets of electronicinvoicing for Europe” released on December 2,2010 was an estimate, based on a study from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, thatCO2 emissions could be reduced by 1 million tonsper year as a result of ebilling’s reduced paperconsumption and transportation. Overall, however, the Commission’s primary motivations for a shift toebilling were economic in nature, relating to moreefcient and accurate billing and collections. So,e-billing may be environmentally friendly, but if itwasn’t also economically compelling, would anyonecare?
Barriers to E-Billing Uptake
In Europe, regulation has been a primary barrier that traditionally has held e-billing back. Issues ranging from invoicing and payment standards, to complex taxation and cross-border nancial rules are all in theEuropean Commission’s sights as items requiring simplication in order to drive broad adoption, whichacross all industries in Europe, stands at roughly 23percent today.With complex regulations in place, e-bills have, at times, not been recognized in some countries asofcial bills. As a result, customers who had optedfor electronic billing still had to receive a pile of paper once per year. Outdated laws and regulationsrelating to items like credits and roll over balancesmade it difcult for companies and customers to frome-billing. As a result, most telcos struggled to achievee-billing penetration greater than 20 percent.“In the early days of e-billing,” says Jonathan Jensen,head of business development for paymentsand media services for BT’s Agile Media, telcosfocused their e-billing discussions on “the triggers that would make that gure grow.” They wonderedopenly whether customers would be, “attracted by
Volume 8, Issue 2
 
© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
www.pipelinepub.com
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
sales@pipelinepub.com
for informaon about Reprint Services.
 the ‘green argument’ or by saving money.” Jensensays. And they reassessed the bill’s overall role incustomer communications as a “value statement”understanding that “if we could change the bill– essentially a demand for money - into a valuestatement – essentially an advert for the value that the customer received - this would be a major win.”he says.As a sophisticated consumer of communicationsservices, Jensen says he nds frustrating inconsistencies in e-billing. He admits to “opting for e-billing from the rst” but says “there are still things that annoy me about it.” He likes receiving apersonalized email that noties him when his bill isready and being able to review it online. But he ndsit irritating, as many other customers likely do, that“sometimes there is no PDF document for you todownload and, if necessary, print out. Sometimes Iwant to do that and it is almost impossible with someweb pages.”He says such barriers are particularly irritating because many legal processes, such as opening abank account, will require as many as three monthsworth of utility or telecom bill history, and this canbe difcult to produce when e-bills aren’t printable inan acceptable format. Jensen suggests, “a balancebetween pushing the right amount of information to the customer and letting him nd what he wants, if he needs to.” He argues, however, that pushing theentire bill is as impractical as expecting customers togo and nd it themselves without useful guidance.
Going All E-Bill
Companies like BT that are tightly regulated because they must provide services that are accessible toevery part of the community have greater challenges than some of their less regulated peers. For example,iffgaff, a UK-based MVNO, provides a mixture of incentives, promotions, forums and packages thatenable customers to receive free or virtually freephone service in exchange for contributing to forums,signing up a few friends, and staying involved. In theU.S., Atlanta-based CBeyond is a next-gen providerfocused on the small business market. Neithercompany even offers an option to receive paper bills.But ustomers’ and service providers’ motivations to opt-in-to or offer E-billing typically differ acrosscultures. Money is the ultimate driver, and themeasurable savings that can be achieved throughE- billing penetration are signicant. DeutscheTelekom, for example, estimates this savings atbetween 1 and 2 percent of its total revenue; DT’srevenue from its operations within Germany aloneequalled €25.1 billion in 2010.German citizens are known to be highly consciousof environmental issues and the need to be ‘green.’E-billing is promoted heavily from this point of viewin Germany. Deutsche Telekom is passionate aboutsustainability. Its website broadcasts facts such as the 13.5 million kilograms of CO2 and 500 millionsheets of paper it has saved thanks to e-billing.Juerg Haselhoff, Vice President of Bill Presentmentfor Deutsche Telekom, explains that the “reductionin land and resource use and human toxicity issignicant” as are the “39,000 reams of paper yousave for every million bills.” He places the resulting billing cost savings related to e-billing between60 and 80 percent. With Deutsche Telekom, andits European counterparts, facing intense pricecompetition – the price of smartphones fell 50percent in the past year alone – it’s no wonder that
Customers who had opted forelectronic billing still had toreceive a pile of paper onceper year.

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