Magazine giant Hearst is launching a new product designed to simplify consumers' lives and slash companies' shipping costs. It's a free online account management service called 'Manilla' — like a Manilla folder — and Hearst launched a Beta version today.
Manilla allows you to access everything from credit cards, cable and utility bills, to your magazine subscriptions. All of your online accounts are consolidated onto one webpage, with one single login. Click for more details on your bills or statements, and the service will show you the full statement you'd receive in the mail, with unlimited storage on the site. Manilla also allows you to pay bills and set up payment reminders, all without leaving the page.
The service can access your information from any company where you have an online login, but it's signing corporate partners to support the free service. So far Comcast and Citi are board. The idea is that companies will only pay Manilla when they save money on mailing. For each customer converted to pay bills online, companies will pay Manilla a monthly fee. In addition to saving on mailing, the company's partners get additional benefits— like the ability to upsell consumers additional products. Companies that pay Manilla can place ads in the space around consumers' info.
Manilla is addressing a major problem — the company says 85 percent of U.S. households receive bills and statements through the mail, costing companies more than $30 billion annually. And this is a cost Hearst is quite familiar with — it sends mail on behalf of 60 percent of American magazines. George Kliavkoff, the EVP of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, says Hearst sends about 500 million pieces of mail each year. So even if Hearst solves a piece of that business, it'll be worth the company's cost in building the service. If Hearst can get more companies — major telecom carriers, and the like — this could become a serious cash cow.
Citi says it's partnering with an innovative service like Manilla because it "helps customers better manage their household finances while also providing a new way to go paperless." Comcast saying: "We're focused on making it easy and convenient for our customers to interact with us. We've offered online payment options for years, and now working with Manilla gives our customers another choice for managing their accounts online and in one place."
The service is now in Beta; once it rolls out broadly we can expect Citi and Comcast to market the service to their customers. Manilla's competition is a similar service, "PageOnce.com," which has four million users. It includes ads and sells some paid apps, but the idea is the same. Manilla's advantage is its corporate partners — Comcast, Citi and Hearst have tens of millions of users to introduce to the service.