PageOnce is taking on Intuit (both Mint and Quicken) with an upgrade to its finance service that allows bill payment from your smartphone. Few other personal finance services offer bill pay, and none offer the detail that PageOnce does.
PageOnce dives into the detail on your bills to show you not just what you own on a bill, but for what: How many minutes on your smartphone bill; All your credit card charges. And this is without signing up for electronic billing at your bank or service provider, so you'll still get your paper bills in the mail as backup.
Another good feature: Every time you go to pay a bill, you can see how much money you have in each cash account, and select the account you want to pay it from.
The PageOnce mobile bill pay app gives you more data than you'll get from your bank (or Quicken) if you are accustomed to paying bills from there, and more control than you'll get from your billers if you've been paying your bills from their sites.
It's a great little app, and I recommend it--if you can get over the discomfort of having so much financial data and control funneled through one point. At least there are good security protocols in place. For example, there's a PIN on the app itself, and you can go on the Web to lock out access to a mobile device if it's lost or stolen.
PageOnce itself is free; the bill pay option is $4.99 a month, with no limit on the number of bills you can pay.
As far as the business of offering this service, that might be a bit more of a battle. While PageOnce offers convenience and strong features, the fact is it doesn't do much that users can't already do elsewhere, either for free or at a price that's buried in other fees (I'm looking at you, banks). It does bill pay better, but how much will people pay in order to pay?
PageOnce believes that mobile users will see the value, and that's why the company has made the curious decision to release this feature on the iPhone app well before they make it available on the Web version of the service. You can set up payees on the Web site, but to actually make the payment, you need the app. PageOnce COO Steve Schultz explained to be that the company is targeting the very busy user, or the traveling professional, who sees the value in being able to manage their finances when they're sitting down waiting for a plane.
I think this strategy will limit uptake on this feature, but I still like the app a lot and I can't fault the larger plan of bringing more control to users who pay their bills electronically.
Rafe's rating: PageOnce
- Product quality: Four out of five stars. Really nice way to see bill detail on your smartphone--and pay those bills, too. Would be nice to have the same feature on the Web app.
- Business quality: Five out of five. What's not to like about a business that acts as a conduit for money moving between consumers and merchants? It will be a challenge to win users, but the data that PageOnce collects on how money moves could end up being more valuable than the money-handling feature itself.