December 27, 2000, 12:01 PM — Q What should a large traditional incumbent corporation consider when trying to choose between building its own or buying an electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution?
A Build versus buy is a common question today among billers looking to deploy solutions. There are a number of important issues to consider in this decision.
First is time to market. Often, a packaged solution can give you a faster deployment time than building in-house.
Another issue is the ability to control and enhance the application. In-house construction will give you ultimate control over enhances and bug fixes, though it comes at a high price to people and resources. A packaged solution allows you to focus on the customer experience rather than the low-level code.
A third issue to consider is standards. Supporting EBPP standards such as open financial exchange and interactive financial exchange is not a trivial task. Sophisticated parsers and application logic must be built to accommodate the transactions designed for bill distribution and payment.
Finally, you must also keep the total cost of ownership in mind. A packaged solution may appear to cost more up front than a custom-built solution, but total cost of ownership will be significantly lower over time. Software vendors invest millions in addressing factors like support for changing standards, availability of modern technology, periodic upgrades and high performance. Billers can leverage that expertise instead of taxing the in-house staff.
Q My company is looking at EBPP for business we conduct outside the United States. We are concerned about the legal, cultural and language implications. What should we be concerned with? Are there vendors that specialize in this type of work?
A International EBPP is a new area for most EBPP vendors and billers alike, and there are many issues to consider.
First, the role of consolidation is unclear. In some countries where cell phone use is dominant, consumer aggregation may be performed on the cell phone rather than on the Web.
Second, the business put in charge of consumer aggregation seems to be a random decision. In many countries, the telephone company or the postal service appears to have as much or more traction with consumers, and as a result they can play the role of the consumer portal.
Third, payment systems are much different. Since direct debit uptake is high in many countries, the value proposition of receiving and paying bills electronically is unclear. It may be that e-billing is used more as a customer care tool than a mechanism for paying bills.
Q What are some of the key criteria for evaluating an EBPP solution? What kind of return on investment (ROI) can I expect to report to my CEO? How does EBPP integrate with other commerce applications?