Bezos-Backed Doxo Rolls Out Free Paperless Bill Management Service
There’s been a lot of buzz around Seattle about Doxo lately. And yet, the startup has managed to maintain some stealthiness around what it actually does—despite the fact that it has some big names involved. The company has ex-Qpass dream-team Steve Shivers, Roger Parks, and Mark Goris (also known as the “Qpass mafia“) for founders. And in November 2009 it garnered $5.25 million in support from Bezos Expeditions (the venture organization of Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos) and Silicon Valley-based Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Up until this point, all we’ve known about Doxo, is that the Seattle-based startup has some big plans for “going paperless”—making items like insurance policies and credit card bills manageable online.
How the two-year-old startup planned to do this was anyone’s guess. But wonder no more. Today it is lifting the screen, rolling out its services publicly, and shedding some light on its sizable mission.
So what is Doxo all about? Drum roll please… The company has developed a cloud-based service where consumers can manage bills and other correspondence that’s usually snail-mailed.
Through Doxo, a person can view and organize their personal and financial accounts, bills, privacy policies, and other important documents—everything from bank and credit card statements to utility, mobile, and cable bills, insurance information, investment portfolios, and frequent flyer programs—in one place, with one password.
For many, Doxo’s product may not sound revolutionary. In fact, vice president Kevin Frisch says the idea is so simple, he’s surprised someone else didn’t think it up first.
“It makes so much sense, I almost wonder why it hasn’t been around before,” he says.
Contrary to what we at Xconomy originally anticipated—and unlike similar companies in the paperless space, like Earth Class Mail—this product is being marketed toward consumers, not companies. And it’s free, for consumers that is.
Here’s how it works: through Doxo, consumers can connect and go “paper free” with providers who have already joined in, after which all bills and correspondence will be delivered electronically to their secure account. Users can also upload their own documents, and request that service providers that aren’t already on Doxo join, so that everything will be in one management hub. From there consumers can pay bills, schedule automatic transactions, and communicate with each account. Doxo then takes a small per-transaction fee from the companies and service. But even this, according to Frisch, pales in comparison to the money they’ll save in printing and mailing costs to their customers.
“Businesses spend a tremendous amount of money printing paper and sending out those bills,” Frisch says. “Using Doxo, they’re saving a tremendous amount.” According to Doxo, 55 billion “transactional documents” are mailed each year in the United States, amounting to some $35 billion in annual expenses for U.S. businesses. The company says it can save businesses around 80 percent of those costs, all while allowing Doxo to support itself, remain free to consumers, and help consumers and customers get organized, all while lower customers’ carbon footprints.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? But if a simple solution is this easy—as Frisch wonders—then why hasn’t it been done before? Well, to start, in many ways it has. Today most banks and credit card companies offer online payment options, and online payments have grown with the success of companies like CheckFree and PayPal. But while the technology is available, Frisch says less than 15 percent of U.S. households have gone paperless.
“When you look at the consumer space, you see online is really taking off,” he says. Still, there’s an “adoption gap” between people who want to go paperless—those already paying many bills, and managing bank accounts and credit cards online, but still getting paper bills and statements in the mail and the minority who have taken the plunge to handling everything online.
Frisch says there are four primary reasons that consumers get trapped in this gap. First, they have too many logins for too many accounts to manage separately—the average household has more than 22 providers, each with different online accounting capabilities, he says. Second, many people still like keeping paper records.
“A lot of customers want to have a copy of their bill, or their document, or the statement in their file,” he says. “You may not be able to find it, but you know it’s there.”
Third, balancing the checkbook has become a habitual chore; with so many different accounts and due dates, many people find it’s easiest to manage their bills by making a point of sitting down to pay them regularly, be it once a month, or once a week. Lastly, bills aren’t the only things that come in the mail. A lot of people figure, according to Frisch, “Why bother going halfway paperless with a company, when that’s only half the problem?”
Frish says Doxo solves these core problems by grouping all or most of a consumers’ billing and record-keeping tasks in a single place online, with only one password to keep track of. The system helps consumers easily manages bill payment, correspondence, automatic transactions, to do lists, and secure document storage.
“Doxo is very much designed to be a sophisticated online file cabinet,” Frisch says. “This is very much for the everyday person—quite honestly it’s for people like me, who want to go paperless but haven’t yet.”
At the very least, he says, “this is a much bigger way to manage your important documents than having mail.” And having fewer physical papers, and more electronic documents, does sound slightly more organized than a file cabinet.