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By Eric Leiserson, Senior Research Analyst, Fiserv
Just as consumers increasingly rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices for everything from shopping to socializing, the number of consumers who are mobile bill payers also continues to grow.
The Seventh Annual Billing Household Survey from Fiserv supports the assertion that mobile bill pay use has moved from the "early adopter" to the "early majority" phase in the technology adoption lifecycle with mobile bill payment usage growing by 69 percent in 2014 to now include 27 percent of U.S. online households. Mobile bill pay adoption mirrors the smartphone adoption and 66 percent of online households now have smartphones. This is undoubtedly good news for the future of mobile bill pay adoption. Billers in the utilities, insurance companies and telecommunications industries are challenged to build mobile bill pay programs that support enhanced customer service and self-service options, and provide a consistent, frictionless user experience across all channels.
When consumers were asked to list the reasons they use mobile bill pay, most mentioned ease, time savings and convenience as the top reasons. The Billing Household Survey found paying and receiving bills via a smartphone has a positive impact on customer satisfaction, with 60 percent of consumers reporting those activities would increase their satisfaction with a biller. Consumer demand is moving the mobile channel to center stage for billers.
Consumers expect billers to provide multiple mobile bill payment options, including debit, prepaid or credit cards, as well as ACH payments. Plus, consumers expect to make those payments through multiple channels, such as a biller sites and apps, and even financial institution sites and their apps. With more and more options to pay and receive bills, consumers increasingly value choice and convenience, which leads to increased customer satisfaction.
The findings also point to how innovative mobile bill pay capabilities that take advantage of a smartphone's camera, scanner or voice activation features would motivate consumers to pay bills – or pay more bills – via the mobile channel. Specifically, 37 percent of consumers cite the ability to take a use an app and smartphone camera to snap a picture of the bill to automatically load account information as a top reason to use mobile bill pay. Additionally, consumers' interest in using their phones as a "mobile wallet" to make payments and store loyalty cards and coupons has increased significantly. Thirty-six percent of consumers said this capability would motivate them to use mobile bill pay or use it more.
Bill pay reminders help consumers prevent late payments and the possibility of incurring fees, and so understandably, have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said bill pay reminders would positively impact customer satisfaction with a biller or bank. Bill pay alerts are increasingly important to consumers, with 66 percent of online bill pay users saying they would be interested in receiving a mobile alert when a bill is due – up 55 percent from the previous year. Mobile bill pay alerts also influence e-bill adoption since it acts a reminder which is the number of barrier of adoption of paperless e-bills. Among respondents who said they'd like to get mobile bill due-date reminders, 71 percent said receiving such alerts would increase the likelihood they would opt for paperless e-bills.
For many reasons, including recent large-scale data breaches, consumers are increasingly mindful of security concerns when they make payments.
Fifty-two percent of consumers cited a belief mobile bill pay is not secure enough as a top barrier to using mobile bill pay, which increased 16 percent in the past year. Billers also struggle to control the user interface and provide customers with a consistent experience across channels, which can help burnish the brand and prevent attrition among customers disenchanted by security issues and a clunky mobile user experience.
Difficulty navigating a small screen was cited by 38 percent of consumers as a reason not to begin using mobile bill pay, which underlines the importance of an excellent user interface as a key component in mobile offerings.
Billers must develop comprehensive a "mobile first" approach along with mobile strategies and capabilities to adapt to changing customer billing and payment preferences. Billers' mobile programs will continue to evolve due to the changing nature of the mobile channel and constantly evolving security threats. Recognizing the tangible business gains related to costs, efficiencies and customer service, as well as the growth rate supported by Fiserv's Billing Household and Benchmark studies, mobile bill pay presentment is the logical focus for large and small billers alike in the second half of this year.
Topics: Bill Payment