E-billing neither cost-saving nor eco-friendly: foundation


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The widely publicized electronic credit card billing is a fake environmentally friendly option and it does not at all help consumers save money, the non-profit Consumers Foundation said yesterday.

Hsieh Tien-jen, acting chairman of the foundation, harshly criticized the service at a press conference held in Taipei to unveil the results of a recent study by the foundation on the efficiency of the e-bill option.

Contrary to the stated purpose of the service to reduce paper consumption to protect the planet, Hsieh said, printed paperwork is still required when e-bill users attempt to pay their credit card bills at convenience stores or in banks.

At convenience stores and in banks, users are asked to present a paper bill with a bar code in order to have the payment processed, Hsieh noted.

If clients attempt to save paper by paying their credit card bills by means of transfers from an automatic teller machine, they are charged a transaction fee of NT$17 each time, he said. In the case of Internet payments, this involves the risk leaking personal information, he added.

The other option for clients is to open an account at the credit card issuing bank and give permission for the payments to be deducted automatically, according to Hsieh.

He suggested that credit card issuing banks could save between NT$26 million and NT$146 million per year with the e-bill service if they would stop mailing the bills to their customers. The study conducted by the foundation found this would be the case if half of all the credit card holders in Taiwan convert to use of the e-bill service, he said.

Citing media reports, Hsieh said Taiwan prints 70 million copies of all kinds of bills per month, and that if these were issued in the form of e-bills, it would save over 2 billion sheets of A4 paper — the equivalent of 20,000 trees 12 meters in the height and 15-20 cm in diameter.

“If banks can save that much money (through paper conservation) the savings could be used to study more efficient means of serving their customers,” he suggested.

He urged the banks to work out a genuine and secure means for their clients to pay their credit card bills without additional costs.