Hoping to encourage more consumers to receive bills electronically, Fiserv has introduced a service that lets billers send invoices by e-mail and use text-message alerts to send billing notices to mobile phones.

The firm's Biller Direct HV service converts bills into PDF files that can be included in standard e-mail messages, and sends text messages with bill summaries. The move's designed to provide more flexibility to bank customers.

"Consumers want to receive their bills in many different ways," says Adam Craig, director of product management for Fiserv's biller solutions unit. "The best strategy for billers is to provide access to bills wherever people want to see them."

The hosted Biller Direct HV service is integrated into billers' existing Web sites, enabling the companies to offer consumers a variety of payment options and services. Craig says many companies outsource the billing and payment functions of their Web sites, and customers sometimes have to leave their sites to make a payment through a third-party provider.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 33 percent of consumers will view a bill at their banks' sites this year, and 46 percent will do so at a biller site. The research firm also says that by 2014 those numbers are expected to increase to 45 percent for bank sites and 56 percent for biller sites.

When people view the electronic bills, they can visit the billers' Web sites and make payments with credit cards, debit cards or automated clearing house debits. Including these functions in a single application on a biller's site will give the companies more control over the payment experience, a usability perk that can help banks enhance their customer relationship-building strategies.

Offering electronic bills in a variety of formats will likely appeal to customers, who are becoming accustomed to sending and receiving information through numerous methods, Craig says. "We are starting to see that people want new technology solutions to view their bills," he says.

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