One of the favorite parts of my job is working with our development and product marketing teams to come up with new product ideas that we think our customers will like.
Today we launched a new product called Payments 360 (Press Release Here).
100% online bill payment is a lie. If you pay your bills online at your bank web site or pay your bills via Quicken, you've always been able to pay all of your bills this way. So most consumers assume that the payments are being sent to the billers electronically because they didn't have to write out a check.
The reality is that the majority of billers are not setup to receive electronic payments. Most billers do not have the technical infrastructure or the budget to enable receipt of electronic payments. So what winds up happening, is that a paper check is mailed to the biller. These are called "Third Party Checks" and they are are the worst kind of paper check. They don't include the tear-off remittance stub, they might not have the correct name, they may even be missing the account number. These are payment exceptions and billers and lockboxes hate them. They're slow and very expensive to handle.
That's where Payments 360 comes in. We've built an extremely low cost solution that allows billers to convert these expensive Third Party Checks into streamlined electronic payments. They're cheaper to handle, they settle over night, and they can be automatically posted to our customer's accounts receivable system.
The feedback from our initial Payments 360 customers has been extremely positive so far. Funny thing though - not one customer ever asked for this kind of product. They knew that third party checks were a big hassle but didn't know to ask if there was way to make them go away.
Products that nobody asks for are the toughest ones to fund the devlopment of. It's either one of two things - customer aren't asking because it's not a product that would be useful, or they're not asking because they don't know they have the need. We like to take the occasional gamble and build something in advance of demand. It's risky, but when it pays off, it's a whole lot of fun.