Aggregation isn't just for account balances, e-mail and frequent flier miles anymore. Companies offering electronic bill payment and presentment services are starting to use screen-scraping technology to gather information from biller Web sites for presentation to customers.
Paytrust has already started to screen-scrape billing information. By doing so, customers no longer have to designate Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Paytrust as the recipient of all of their paper bills.
CheckFree, with direct connections to just under 220 billers, will employ aggregation technology to go after the rest. However, CheckFree still has billers in its sights. "We're definitely still going after biller relationships," said David Fontaine, director of media relations at Atlanta-based CheckFree. Direct data feeds permit interactive, targeted marketing messages that would otherwise not appear along with an aggregated bill, he said.
For aggregation to work, consumers would still have to open an online account with that biller. "They could elect to get that bill summary information aggregated and brought back to the bank site," said Fontaine.
CheckFree's expanded offering might affect the prospects for Spectrum, a bank-owned bill presentment and payment switch based in New York. "Now they've got someone who can take bills they thought were theirs," said Avivah Litan, an analyst at GartnerGroup.
John Perry, chairman and CEO of Spectrum, said, "Our model goes beyond screen scraping because we can provide secure electronic messages under the control of financial institutions." Furthermore, Spectrum's "good funds" model ensures that a consumer has a sufficient bank balance before making a payment.