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Business Guidelines Issued for E-Bill Presentment and Payment

The National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) and the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat (BITS) released a set of electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) business practice guidelines.

Developed by NACHA's Bill Payment Council as part of BITS' InteroperaBill initiative, the business practices will facilitate the electronic delivery of a bill from any biller to any consumer, and the electronic payment of the bill.

The business practices, available on the Bill Payment Council's Web site, set forth recommended practices for billers, service and payment providers for both billers and customers, and for the customers themselves.

Each practice is designated as either "required" or "suggested," depending on whether the practice is essential to EBPP interoperability or is merely a preferred business practice.

"The electronic bill presentment and payment business practices will allow billing companies to meet their customers expectations regarding the billing process, and establish the minimum requirements necessary for any party to successfully interact with the other parties in an online billing transaction," said Kelly Marlar, co-chair of the working group that drafted the practices and manager of Treasury Advisory Services at BellSouth Corp.

InteroperaBILL is a BITS initiative to develop a framework of technical and business standards that allows all billers to reach online customers, and all online customers to receive and pay bills across suppliers and platforms.

"All parties involved in EBPP stand to benefit from the business practices because interoperability is critical in achieving acceptance by billing companies and consumers," said Louis Fuertes, also a co-chair of the working group and vice president, Treasury Solutions for Chase Manhattan Bank.

"In developing industry practices, it was vital to have billers, bankers, and service and technology companies all sitting at the same table," said Elliott C. McEntee, president and chief executive officer of NACHA. "The Bill Payment Council was able to achieve consensus among all the stakeholders in EBPP as to what constitutes minimum required business practices."

The business practices are based on the following principles:

  1. the security and privacy of the billing and payment information is essential
  2. EBPP participants must act upon requests and instructions in a timely manner
  3. participants must maintain adequate records and tracking systems
  4. problem notification must occur so that participants can take corrective action
  5. contact information must be provided to other industry participants and to customers.

The business practices specify how these principles apply to the processes of customer enrollment, bill presentment, and bill payment. Furthermore, the document specifies that business practices for EBPP build on, and not replace, existing billing practices used in the paper world.