Just days after notifying users that bill-pay reminders are coming to Outlook.com, Microsoft took the extra step and said that you’ll be able to soon actually be able to pay those bills via email, too.
Outlook.com users will “soon” be able to click a button and trigger payments right from within the Web service’s interface, Microsoft announced at its Build developer conference. Outlook will support payment processors (including Stripe and Braintree), billing services, and invoicing services like FreshBooks, Intuit, Invoice2Go, Sage, Wave, and Xero.
Microsoft’s newfound capability is based on Microsoft Pay, the little-known payments service Microsoft debuted with the Lumia 950 smartphone two years ago, which had tap-to-pay technology built into it. On top of it, however, is what Microsoft calls “adaptive cards”—basically buttons within Outlook to call an app or service, without the need to launch a separate app.
You won’t be able to email your bank and wire funds to pay your water bill using this specific set of features within Outlook.com. But if a company you do business with emails you a bill or invoice with support for a payment service embedded, you’ll have the option to click the button to transfer funds in a single click.
Bill payer beware: While this is convenient, don’t go clicking willy-nilly on any button or link that gets emailed to you—that’s a great way for your personal information to get stolen, or for malware to be loaded onto your machine. You’ll want to do your due diligence before using this feature. Since Microsoft’s announcement at Build didn’t signal a formal launch of the bill-pay mechanism, hopefully the company will provide a detailed explanation of how users can be sure that an email with this feature enabled is the real deal rather than a phishing scheme.