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U.S. Online Payments to Replace Checks

Online payments are poised to replace paper checks as the main means Americans pay their bills, a survey released Wednesday said.

According to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive for CheckFree, a vendor of back-end e-bill paying services, online payments are used to pay 35 percent of all bills, nearly matching the 37.5 percent of bills paid by paper check. Last year, the differential was more than 20 points.

The number of Americans paying bills online also continues to grow. In 2005, 56 percent of U.S. households with online access said they were paying at least one bill online; CheckFree's 2006 survey edition said 69 percent of homes with Web access are paying one or more bill online.

Cost, or the lack of one, is among the reasons for the surge in online bill paying. More than 9 out of 10 users who pay their bills from one consolidated site, such as a bank, brokerage, or credit union, said they got the service for free. Users also like that e-bill payments save paper, stamps, and time (28 percent gave that as the best benefit); ensures bills are paid on the day of their choice (12 percent); and is faster than paying by check (11 percent).

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