Holland's top four banks have reached agreement on a standard for exchanging digital bills and invoices via Internet banking with a view to introducing a national scheme in the first half of 2006.
Rabobank, ABN Amro, Postbank, and ING Bank have been working with TPG Post to define a standard for exchanging, presenting and paying bills online. The system will adapt TPG's Privver digital letterbox scheme to post electronic versions of traditional paper-based Giro slips direct to consumer banking inboxes.
Dutch consumers who wish to pay their bills online currently have to manually re-enter information from paper bills to initiate banking transfers. The move to automated transfers is expected to deliver significant cost savings for banks by cutting back on the number of paper giro slips they process.
In the Netherlands, 63% of households currently use Internet banking on a regular basis. From a recent market survey by InterviewNSS, it emerged that 77% of Dutch Internet users wish to use the digital bill.
A number of major companies, including telecom operator KPN, utility company Eneco Energie, insurer Agis Zorgverzekeringen, publisher Sanoma Tijdschriften, and mail order company Neckermann Shopping have already said that they will use the standard.
The consortium says other banks will be invited to participate in the scheme.