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  • Developing a multi-channel bill payment strategy

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Self-serve financial services kiosks are often the main attraction at trade shows, conferences and exhibitions, as they capture the imagination of service providers and retailers by utilizing innovative technology solutions to satisfy consumers' thirst for convenience. Most recently, the Utility Payment Conference (UPC) was the venue for demonstration of multi-channel bill payment apps, where the audience interacted with the self-serve kiosk on display and enthusiastically engaged presenters at the Mobile Payment Panel. Utilities and other service providers recognize that each payment channel fulfills the need of a distinct demographic group. Unbanked and under-banked consumers are most likely to take advantage of convenient access to expedited financial services through bill pay kiosks and over-the- counter payment solutions at retail locations.

In comparison, mobile payment apps benefit technology-savvy consumers who prefer to conduct last- minute transactions with credit and debit cards or bank accounts using their Blackberry, Android and iOS Devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad). The fulfillment of customers' satisfaction and expectations is time and again the key deciding factor in the pursuit of a successful multi-channel bill payment strategy.

Realizing inherent complexities in the successful execution of the multi-channel strategy, utilities and service providers partner with bill payment processors, such as TIO Networks, that offer turnkey solutions from concept to completion. Annual trade shows, such as the Utility Payment Conference, NACHA  and CS Week, provide key decision makers with ideas and guidance on how to effectively overcome technological challenges and process payments across multiple platform through a single integration. Service providers leverage bill payment processors' competencies to develop true partnerships for each deployment, as consumers' needs, distribution opportunities and access to customer service are analyzed in detail and multiple payment channels are utilized to convert consumers' needs into recurring revenue.

To ensure the success of multi-channel bill payment strategies, it is vital to first identify target consumers, initiate a pilot project and set key milestones leading to launch date. Experience shows that the selection of retail partners and location are quite important for successful kiosk deployments. The commonly used phrase ' location, location, location' holds true to underline the direct correlation between geographic locations of kiosks and their transactional and revenue performance. Self-serve bill pay kiosks tend to perform best in markets with a high concentration of cash paying consumers. The same is true for offering bill payment services over the counter through a secure Web-based platform.

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