The New York Times > Business > Your Money > Spending: Here's the Hook: Gifts for Online Bill Payers
This is a relatively dumb article. It talks about why vendors want their customers to pay online, but it entirely misses the more interesting story of bill payment handled by banks.
Online bill payment can be done two ways:
1. Vendor controls payment.
2. Bank controls payment.
Vendors want to get money as quickly as possible. They make money on mistakes that generate payments -- when the consumer misses the error.
Banks want to send money out at the last possible moment. They don't make money on a mistake that withholds payment -- there's no way the vendor will let that happen.
In this case the interests of the Bank are identical to the interests of the consumer. Check payment controlled by the bank is a fundamentally better solution. In addition it means a single system to learn and support.