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Electronic billing is a straightforward concept: send bills and collect funds electronically instead of mailing out a bill and waiting for the customer to mail back a check.

According to a study by Verngroff, Williams, and Associates, 95% of financial officers polled were comfortable using the web for financial transactions, 74% believed that electronic billing would improve turnaround for customer payments, and 69% thought that e-billing would increase customer satisfaction.

Yet only 52% wanted to switch to electronic billing and 95% of all American households still receive paper bills.

Why is corporate America resistant to the idea of electronic billing? Studies suggest that online billing can be conducted at only one third the cost of paper billing, but companies contemplating the switch may see the initial cost of buying software or training staff as something to put off as long as possible. Fully online services solve the problem of initial costs, but uncertainty about ease of use or consumer reception may cause companies to hesitate even when the financial advantage is obvious.

But there's an important reason to switch to e-billing which has nothing to do with money: it's a greener choice.

According to the Pay It Green Alliance, a single family paying their bills online can avoid 68 pounds of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of 9 square feet of forest preserved from deforestation.

The average business can save 171 pounds of greenhouse gases. There is a concomitant reduction in the quantity of paper and ink used, production of waste water, energy used to print and produce the invoices, and fuel required to transport the invoices to consumers can be significant.

When e-billing solutions becomes widespread, the environmental savings will be significant. Since e-billing saves time and money as well, this particular method of reducing a company's carbon footprint is bound to be one of the easiest to adopt.