Efficient Electronic Collection

BillPayIt enables billers to collect bill payments from their customers electronically by uploading a bill definition file that describes the relevant bill information. The biller then directs customers to their BillPayIt portal website where customers can locate and pay their bills. As customers pay these bills, Forte provides a nightly bill payment file showing this payment activity. Billers can then update the bill payment status by uploading a new bill definition file.

Forte uses a secure FTP or web interface to transfer the bill definition and bill payment files.

The BillPayIt lifecycle includes the following key dates:

  • Presentation Date
    Billers can upload bills before the bills become available for customer payment. Bills only become visible to the customer on or after the presentation date.
  • Due Date
    BillPayIt applies late fees when the biller passes this required field.
  • Expiration Date
    The customer can no longer pay or view bills after the expiration date. Billers can request that their expired bills remain visible on the site for a period of time.
  • Paid in Full Date
    If a biller wants to indicate that a bill has been paid in full, the biller can send an update to the bill that notes the date it was paid. Once a bill has been paid in full, BillPayIt no longer allows payments against the bill.
  • Last Payment Date
    The last payment date allows billers to reflect the payment status information from their own bill systems. When a customer makes a payment through the portal, it is considered a pending payment until the biller indicates acceptance of the payment. To indicate acceptance, the biller updates the bill with a modified paid amount and sets the last payment date. If the biller does not provide a last payment date, BillPayIt uses the date the bill was last modified.

If a biller wants to require the customer to pay a series of bills in sequence, Forte can relate these bills by setting a shared Grouping ID. These bills must then be fully paid in the order of their due dates. For example, a property tax agency can relate quarterly tax payments on a parcel by placing the parcel number into this grouping field. The parcel owner must then pay each quarter in sequence by their due date.

When adding a grouped bill, BillPayIt ensures that all previous bills in the group have been paid in full. If not, it prompts customers to add these previous items to their carts and pay them in full.

Use the following bill amounts when collecting payments:

  • Due Amount
    The total amount of the bill. This field should not be modified unless the biller is reducing the bill.
  • Paid Amount
    The dollar amount that the biller reflects as "paid" against the bill. This field starts at $0 and increases as the customer makes partial payments through either the bill portal or via outside channels.
  • Minimum Amount
    If the biller allows for partial payments against a bill, this amount is the minimum amount allowed. When set to 0, no partial payment is allowed.
  • Late Fee Amount
    After the due date passes, BillPayIt adds this amount to the due amount as a separate line item that must now be paid against the bill.

To make bills easy to find on their bill portal, billers can configure elements of the bill to be searchable through an exact or similar character match.

For example, a utility company can require that an invoice number be entered exactly as shown on a bill or it can use a name-based search that allows the search query "John Public" to be a match for "John Q. Public." Billers should work with their integration coordinator to determine how to configure this feature for their organization.

Billers can configure the following elements to be searchable:

  1. Customer Name
  2. Customer ID
  3. Bill Number
  4. Unique Bill ID
  5. Street Address
  6. Any of the four biller-defined fields


To assist customers in finding and understanding their bill, billers can rename fields through the portal. For example, a biller may want the "Bill Number" to be displayed in the portal as "Invoice Number."

All of searchable fields listed in the sections above can be relabeled, including "Late Fee" and "Invoice Date."

Billers use the bill definition file to create and update bills in their portal. This file is keyed on the Unique Bill ID (UBID). All bills are unique to the biller based on this alphanumeric ID field. When BillPayIt receives a bill with a new UBID, it creates a new bill. If the biller uses an existing UBID, BillPayIt updates that bill with all of the information contained in the new record.

File Naming

Use the following naming scheme for your file:

<B><Format><Revision><TransmitterID>.<Ready Indicator><File Count>


For example, BSTD112345.u01 where

  • B indicates a bill definition file
  • STD indicates the format (max length: 3). STDis the standard format.
  • 1 indicates the format revision number (max length: 1)
  • 12345 is the biller-assigned Transmitter ID used for FTP login. Group multiple billers together with a shared Transmitter ID.
  • .u indicates upload files. After processing the file, the biller must rename the file and change this field to .b.
  • 01 - indicates the daily file counter. The value 01 indicates the first file upload of the day.

File Format

A Standard Revision 1 File Format is a single-line-per-record CSV format with support for the following quoted text qualifiers:

Name Description Required?
UniqueBillID A unique value representing the bill in this record Required
MerchantID The billers's Forte-assigned merchant ID Required
PresentationDate The date the bill becomes available for customer viewing Optional
DueAmount The total amount due based on due date Required
MinimumAmount Minimum amount a customer must pay Optional
CurrencyCode The alpha code from 4217; this field must be "USD" Required
DueDate The date the bill becomes overdue Required
LateFee The late fee applied to the bill after the due date Optional
ExpirationDate The expiration date of the bill. This field defaults to 90 days if no value is passed in with the file. Optional

Use one of the following values for this field:

  • C = credit card only
  • E = electronic funds transfer only
  • B = Both credit card and electronic funds transfer allowed
PaidAmount The amount the customer has already paid against due amount Optional
LastPaymentDate The date of the last payment accounted for in the PaidAmount field Optional
PaidInFullDate The date of the final payment on the bill's remaining balance Optional
CustomerName The customer's name Required
ContactName The customer's contact name (if the customer is a company) Optional
StreetAddress The first line of the customer's street address Optional
StreetAddress2 The second line of the customer's street address Optional
City The customer's city Optional
StateProvince The customer's state or province Optional
PostalCode The customer's zip/postal code Optional
Country The customer's country Optional
Phone The customer's phone number Optional
EmailAddress The customer's email address Optional
CustomerID The biller's Customer ID or Account Number Optional
BillNumber The bill or invoice number Optional
BillDate The bill date Optional
Terms The terms of the bill Optional
Memo Any memos associated with this bill Optional
GroupingID A field used for payment ordering Optional
MDF1 Merchant-defined field #1 Optional
MDF2 Merchant-defined field #2 Optional
MDF3 Merchant-defined field #3 Optional
MDF4 Merchant-defined field #4 Optional

The format options for the Merchant Data fields (MDF1MDF4) are String, Amount, Date, and URL. Billers who want to have a PDF invoice displayed need to put the URL of the invoice associated with the outstanding payment in one of the following merchant-defined fields: MDF1, MDF2, MDF3, or MDF4. If any of the merchant-defined fields contain a URL, a PDF icon displays in the right-most column. The user can then click on the PDF icon to see the contents of the invoice.

The bill payment file communicates bill payment events to the biller. The standard file format echos back the same format above but appends two new fields at the end of the bill record to indicate payment status and payment amount.

Use one of the following values to populate the Payment Status field:

  • A - Authorized. The customer has attempted the payment, but funds may not yet have moved.
  • F - Funded. The payment funded into the biller account.
  • C - Chargedback. A customer has initiated a chargeback on a credit card payment.
  • U - Unchargedbacked. A chargeback has been reverted.
  • Z - Unfunded. An ACH transaction has been taken back from the biller account
  • R - Returned. An ACH transaction was rejected

The Payment Amount is a traditional money field indicating the amount of the bill paid.

The BillPayIt system attempts to reconcile multiple sources of information in regard to the paid amount of the bill and to enforce a correct payment amount. It accomplishes this quickly and accurately in the vast majority of circumstances. However, complex scenarios involving out-of-portal payments, partial payments, chargebacks, returns and incorrect or out-of-date "Last Payment Date" information could incorrectly result in a scenario where the BillPayIt system reflects a bill as being fully paid and thus allows no further payments against it.

For concerns that a complex payment scenario may temporarily stop payments from being made on a bill for legal or regulatory reasons, the biller should contact their integration specialist to enable bill overpayment within a specified percentage of the bill's original due amount.