Save paper by going green!

No Comment - Post a comment

IN Singapore, more than 600 million pages of bills and envelopes are sent out to households, costing billing companies more than $50 million annually.

As expected, these usually end up in the waste bin or thrown into a pile of already-viewed bills. Studies show that only 5 per cent of Singaporeans have switched to checking their bills electronically. The rest receive their bills the conventional way by post.

However, with the public growing more tech-savvy and environmentally conscious, this trend may change soon.

For years, organisations have been grappling with the cost of sending paper bills to their customers, especially for those who bill on a regular basis such as telcos, utility companies and banks.

While each paper bill's cost ranges from 70 cents to $2.65, the total runs into millions spent each year after factoring in the cost of paper, printing, postage, equipment and labour.

Because of this, some companies have introduced online portals, allowing users to assess bills electronically. Unfortunately, the rate of adoption by the Singapore public has been low, which is surprising considering more than 80 per cent use the Internet for day-to-day transactions.

Why is this so? Firstly, each company has its own online portal, which customers must log in to retrieve their bill information. As most households receive at least five to 10 bills a month, it takes considerable time and patience to log into different portals, and remember separate login IDs and passwords, especially when the billing cycles are different.

Another factor is human nature. It is always difficult to convince people to change from what they are comfortable with, especially when the existing system remains in place. Furthermore, companies do not actively encourage their customers to opt out of receiving paper bills.

What many do not realise is the potential of deploying such a system. Even if just a fifth of Internet users were to view their bills electronically, this would translate to saving 134 million pages and 16,000 trees annually. As paper bills are widely used not only in B2C business segments but also in B2B markets, online portals have the potential of reaching out and catering to the needs of these segments.

Seeing the commercial potential and societal benefits of electronic bills, one start-up company is developing a solution to solve these problems. Supported by NUS Enterprise, GreenBills Pte Ltd has built a common platform, which aggregates bills from different companies.

Called GreenPost, this platform allows users to view their bills through a single online portal. It aggregates bills from M1, SingTel, StarHub and Singapore Power. GreenBills is also developing a 'paper opt out' mechanism, so users can choose the environmentally friendly option of saving paper once they are comfortable with viewing bills online. Other benefits of the portal include email alerts for new bills or overdue payments, downloadable PDF-version bills and unlimited archival of bills.


This Post has No Comment Add your own!

Post a Comment