More than nine out of 10 South African Internet users participating in a survey on electronic billing would prefer to be billed electronically rather than via traditional post office mail.
This was a key finding of the "e-billing in South Africa 2003" survey of companies and individuals conducted by World Wide Worx. The findings showed that the majority of respondents - 76% - would prefer to receive their bills via e-mail, while 17% would prefer to access their bills on a website. This is in direct contrast to American findings, which have shown that most Internet users there prefer to access bills on the websites of their billers or to receive a consolidated set of bills at their banks' websites.
"This is a clear indication of the impact that local conditions can have on technology take-up," says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx. "Because of slow access speeds in this country, South Africans are looking for solutions that don't keep them waiting for Web pages to download. Rather than wait unproductively for the details of every account to arrive on their screens, they would prefer to see their bills arrive in their e-mail, where they can peruse them in their own time."
Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx
The survey could be bad news for the SA Post Office, unless it becomes an e-billing provider itself. Only 7% of respondents preferred traditional post office mail for receiving most of their bills.
The survey included 586 individuals and 200 companies who have access to the Internet, and covered a range of issues affecting the fledgling electronic bill payment and presentment (EBPP) industry.
More than half of the companies surveyed had no plans for deployment of e-billing solutions, but a third had already rolled out solutions or were in the process of doing so. A quarter of companies had no idea how their efforts stacked up against the competition, while 6% felt they were way ahead and 15% slightly ahead. 11% acknowledged they were way behind and another 11% believed they were slightly behind.
Companies regarded decreased turnaround time as the most important benefit of electronic billing, with increased customer-service access close behind. Decreased billing and processing cost came next in order of importance.
"The most fascinating findings related to the companies from which individuals would prefer to receive electronic bills," says Goldstuck. "Customers of retail chains in particular regard e-mail as the ideal delivery method for their bills, but when it comes to banking and insurance, there is still quite a high demand for traditional mail. Even there, however, it varies from bank to bank."
For more details on the e-billing in South Africa 2003 survey, visit the World Wide Worx website at www.theworx.biz