Saturday , January 19, 2019

Microsoft Enables Email Users to Pay Billers Without Leaving Outlook

Microsoft Corp. is adapting its Microsoft Pay wallet to allow users of Outlook to pay bills and invoices they receive in the email program. The new feature, announced Monday at a company-sponsored developer conference, will become available to “a limited number” of users of Outlook’s Web-based service “over the next few weeks,” according to a Microsoft blog post. Broader availability will arrive “in the coming months,” the post says.

The new feature enables billers to leverage Microsoft Pay to include payment capability within their emails to customers. Microsoft Pay is the renamed Microsoft Wallet service the computing giant introduced in 2016 for its mobile-device line.

The blog post stresses that Microsoft is not entering the payments-processing business. Rather, the new service will rely on processing by Stripe Inc. and Braintree, a unit of PayPal Holdings Inc. Invoicing capabilities from FreshBooks, Intuit, Invoice2Go, Sage, Wave, and Xero are also supporting the service, as is Zuora for billing.

With the service, billers can send a payment request that will appear in the customer’s Outlook account as a so-called card stating the biller’s name, the amount due, due date, and other information. The customer receives a complete invoice by clicking on a confirmation button on the card and then approves payment. The payment processor then renders a payment token to the biller’s server. The customer takes all actions without leaving Outlook, according to Microsoft.

The new payments capability is an enhancement of an Outlook service called “Actionable Messages” that Microsoft introduced last year to allow email recipients to execute various tasks within Outlook.

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