I recently wrote a WTF about Billhighway over at Technorati, which showcases Where’s The Fire (WTF) communications. After getting some inital feedback, I thought I’d post it again here for the archives. enjoy.
While flying well below the radar for the past few years, billhighway has been investing heavily in a community-oriented payments platform. The “platform” has been built upon an SOA and GRID architecture, which is theoretically infinitely-scalable. Having recruited experts in the emerging payments space, billhighway is well positioned to serve the needs of today’s finance 2.0 audience.
With no formal marketing effort, this boutique payments provider has quietly amassed over 500k members! Its “platform” is resident in several commercial offerings; namely billhighway.com, billhighway.net and billhighway.org – which the company intends to showcase the power of its “platform” by serving several unique, yet demanding audiences.
Billhighway emerged as a leader in shared bills back in 1999, with its then APH for Roommates service (which has since been re-mastered as billhighway.net.) Billhighway has had the luxury of refining its services and online presence for some time now. Its flagship product, formerly known as APH for Chapters, is a well established financial system for managing distributed offices, chapters or business units – namely in the nonprofit sector. Large organizations, regional offices, junior leagues, property management firms, condo associations, and alumni groups are using the system to streamline finances using Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) techniques, allowing a central, consolidated system to bridge operations from local member-levels all the way up to the executive offices. Everything from budgeting to membership management, invoicing to collections, even real-time financial statements, payroll integration and tax preparation, not to mention a full general ledger package exists to optimize various requirements of financial transactions within an organization; or it can be scaled down to accommodate simple cash management services for a single local chapter/association or office. Billhighway is essentially a layer of software that sits on top of a bank to offer more flexible financial solutions, catering to community-based organizations and individuals alike. Think salesforce.com for financials.
Most recently, Billhighway extended its platform in a consumer flavor, available at billhighway.net. Here the emphasis is on the individual, whereas he or she is managing adhoc finances within various friendship circles that they may participate in, referred to as “crowds”. While services available at billhighway.com & billhighway.org cater to the “organization”, therefore managing finances on behalf of an entity, billhighway.net empowers us, the end-users. The intent is to make informal debts more manageable and most notably to address real-world challenges we may face each day. For instance, collecting money from a group for a vacation, chipping in for a gift at the office, reimbursing a friend for lunch/dinner or planning a group outing, such as a golf trip – these things can now be managed with ease, from contact and event management – all the way to the physical collection of money, all done rather seamlessly online.
The real power of billhighway is in its transparency. It currently serves a diverse audience, each with its own perception of what “billhighway” is. While its true, many unique uses exists, they do however all share one common thread – a native payments platform. That means no clunky bank software, no pay pal accounts – just plain old unadulterated online payments, which translates to flexibility! Enabling such dynamic services on top of a single “platform” enables our teams to concentrate on extending features and functionality instead of re-engineering business processes and constantly addressing scalability concerns. The eventual offering of an API will bring billhighway to the masses. Companies, websites, and even hobbyists will soon be able to derive new revenue models due to the financial flexibility resident in our platform. Split bills, partial payments, over-payment management, stored value, royalty and referral compensation programs – all take on new meaning. Website owners can mashup services now tying in payments, whether macro or micro, and bestow a whole new level of service (or perceived value) to their customers. Consider myspace, facebook or youtube users easily monetizing their content. Content providers can soon incrementally charge for varying levels of service/access or divide a single payment between several parties. The notion itself may represent a watershed type event permitting things currently not perceived as possible. Think eventful.com wanted, where members contribute money to sponsor their favorite band at a local venue, athletic teams gathering money for jerseys/trips or contributing to your favorite fund-raising events – all can be modernized to simplify management and begin collecting money online. The limits are seemingly endless. And yes, of course, the patent process is well established.
The future is bright for Billhighway. I encourage you to become more familiar with them, either for managing membership within your organization, helping with personal finances among your crowd(s) or as a website proprietor – there’s truly something for everyone.