Welcome!

Hello everyone,

Welcome to our new blog. We have a couple of posts up here already and we’re just getting started! Our goal is to regularly share valuable news and tips that affect your finances. We also want to let you in on some of the exciting things that are happening here at Billeo and maybe even provide an insider’s view of the challenges inherent in making a small company go in today’s world.

From the start we’ve been committed to developing a product that helps to make shopping and paying bills online faster, easier and more rewarding for you. We designed our toolbar to give you more control over your online transactions. The world of ecommerce changes and evolves constantly and we’re working hard to not just keep up, but, put Billeo users out in front of that evolution with an application that works better, smarter, and faster. It is no mean feat, however, and we’ve experienced plenty of failures to go along with our successes.

Recently we’ve received some awards that show we’re on the right track. This year we were awarded the 2009 SIIA CODiE Award for “Best eCommerce Solution” and were named a Webby Award Nominee for Best Banking/ Bill Paying Website. Webby Honorees, Nominees and Winners truly represent the best of the Web, and we are honored to be among those awarded.
 
Most recently, Billeo was named “Best eCommerce Site” by the American Business Awards; one of the business world’s most coveted awards. The awards ceremony was held in New York and Robin O’Connell, Billeo’s Vice President of Business Development and my fellow blogger, was in attendance.

Billeo is proud to be honored for its achievements as we strive everyday to bring you the most innovative and useful shopping and bill payment tool on the web.

And(!) we’re excited to get this blog up and going and and to leverage this new channel of communication to share ideas and touch base with all of our Billeo users. We hope you’ll read our posts, but more than that, we hope you’ll participate. Don’t hesitate to post your comments of agreement or dissent. Let’s get the conversation started!

Write us at feedback@billeo.com and let us know if there are specific topics you’d like to read about in this blog – we’d love to hear from you.  And thank you for your continued support.  

Best,
Murali Subbarao
Founder/CEO, Billeo, Inc.

Billeo with a side of Dropbox

One of the challenges we face at Billeo is properly supporting consumers who use our toolbar on multiple computers.

‘How to access passwords from multiple computers and keep them synced up?’

Let’s take my situation as an example. I regularly use my one Billeo account on three separate computers (office pc, home pc, and Macbook). It is easy enough for me to use a flash drive or online storage solution, a la Mozy, Carbonite, or IDrive, to back up my office pc to my home pc or my Macbook.

The problem is changes I make to Billeo on one computer do not carry over to the other two. If I’m using multiple computers regularly their respective Billeo vaults grow separately. While each computer will have the Billeo stored logins for, say, T-Mobile, Amazon, and Facebook, one or two of the three (but not all!) may have my PayPal or Netflix or Zappos.

When you have two or more computers, all with Billeo installed, all with unique logins stored, how do you decide which vault is your primary? How do you keep Billeo synced across all your computers?

An application called Dropbox may have the solution. With a Dropbox account, files I save in a specific folder on one computer are instantly updated and available in corresponding folders on the other computers I use.

This is an imminently useful tool and Dropbox knows it. Like other companies in their niche, they’re betting the free accounts (2GB) they offer will hook consumers who will eventually pony up for more space. It’s a good bet.

A Billeo vault at less than 100KB is only a drop in the 2GB bucket…yet, I can already feel the urge to upgrade my Dropbox account.

In the meantime, straight from the Billeo Cookbook, here is our recipe for Billeo with a side of Dropbox.

  1. Download Dropbox (http://www.getdropbox.com/) onto one of your computers
  2. Install it (thereby creating a Dropbox folder on your pc/Mac) and sign up for a free 2GB Dropbox account
  3. Backup your Billeo vault to the new Dropbox folder (Click here for help backing up your vault)
  4. Sign out of Billeo
  5. Click Sign In on the Billeo toolbar to bring up the Sign In box
  6. Click Options in the Sign In box and then the button with the ellipses (…)
  7. Point to your saved Vault within the Dropbox and sign in

Now any new login data should save to the Vault you stored in the Dropbox.

For the second computer:

  1. Download and install Dropbox to the second computer
  2. Sign in to the Dropbox account you created earlier–it should immediately sync your saved data from your first computer to this one
  3. Click Sign In on the Billeo toolbar to bring up the Sign In box
  4. Click Options and then the ellipses again
  5. Within your Dropbox folder you should see your saved Vault from the first computer. Point to it and Sign In.

You should have all the saved data from the first Vault. Any new logins  you record will save to the Vault within Dropbox, which will automatically sync to the folder on the first computer. When you sign back in to Billeo on the first computer any changes made while on the second computer should be reflected in your Vault.

One lesson I learned early on: Do Not Try to save logins to one Billeo account from two or more locations simultaneously (i.e. don’t let someone at another location use your Billeo account while you are using it). It just won’t work effectively.

Also, when you sit down at your computer, sign out then back into Billeo to ensure yourself you are accessing the most recent data.

A number of Billeo users have already begun syncing their vaults through Dropbox and all the feedback has been positive. If you’ve been using Billeo on more than one computer you really must give this recipe a try.

If you encounter any roadblocks in setting up Dropbox, or, if you’re just not comfortable implementing these steps on your own, feel free to reach out to me or one of my colleagues in Billeo Support (support@billeo.com /866-539-0782).

Card-funded Bill Pay: The Last Great Divide

Can’t we all just get along?

One of the most pervasive influences in bill payments today you will not see in print in American Banker or Payments News. Analysts don’t mention it in their comprehensive analyses and forecasts of the market. And bankers will most likely get fidgety and cold sweats when discussing the subject.

But anyone at a bill pay service provider or at a bank or issuer that has worked on bill pay knows what I am talking about.

It’s the dysfunctional relationship between the issuing side of the bank and the retail side of the bank when it comes to bill pay.

The credit and debit card issuer want their cardholders to pay their bills with their cards to drive interchange revenues, and the retail side of the bank wants their customers to pay through their traditional online banking bill pay. The problem? They are the same customers, paying the same bills but you can’t make an interchange generating card-based bill payment at your bank’s web site.

There, I said it… there’s no solution in market today that provides for both what the card issuer wants and what the online banking bill pay people want. And it’s not for a lack of trying. Two companies offer a work around solution here – Billeo and Yodlee. I won’t go into the details or sales pitch, and I’ll be the first to admit that neither solution is the perfect solution.

The perfect solution – that elusive, silver bullet solution seems so simple. Why can’t there be just a drop down list next to any biller from the bill pay payee list where the user can choose how they want to make the payment? Credit card debit card or ACH? The answer is that the Biller won’t accept a credit or debit card payment this way. Why would they – with ACH, the Biller accepts online banking bill pay payments for pennies and a card bill payment would cost dollars. And herein lies the rub – banks want one thing and the billers want another, and never the two shall meet.

So the dysfunction festers and the tension continues between Biller Direct bill pay and traditional online banking bill pay.

So who pays? The consumer. The consumer is left to navigate the disjointed offerings of the bank. The issuer marketing to the consumer that they should pay their bills with a card and the retail side marketing to pay through online banking bill pay. The consumer does both, of course, because each path provides a different end benefit. Traditional online banking bill pay allows for a seamless one-stop-shop user experience to pay any bill, but the payment can take several days to process. Whereas, paying a bill directly at the biller’s site is instantaneous but the consumer must go to multiple sites.

But some day, somehow that tension will break, because the consumer will demand it.