The Council for Electronic Billing and Payment, a committee of NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association, is prepared to embark on an evaluation of the quick response (QR) code guidelines it released in December 2012, and it seeks participation from the payments industry. The CEBP said evaluation of the QR Encoding for Consumer Bill Payment Guidelines will last from May 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.
The guidelines identify standards for using QR codes in both biller direct and consolidator/aggregator billing and payment models. Recommendations include the size of QR codes, what data the codes should contain and how that data should be formatted in the code. The document describes ways QR codes can be employed, such as to view bills, make bill payments, and enroll consumers in e-bill and online banking services.
Industry evaluation of the guidelines, considered the second phase in the overall evaluation of the document, seeks to confirm the efficacy of the specifications contained in the guidelines, as well as clarify how QR codes should be used in billing and payment models and how they can be used to reduce costly bill payment exceptions.
Robert Unger, Accredited ACH Professional and Senior Director at NACHA, said via email that most bill payment exceptions occur due to user error, such as customers entering incorrect account information when setting up online banking accounts.
NACHA and the CEPB commissioned a 2012 study on exceptions that showed 0.58 percent of total bill payments in 2011, including check, automated clearing house, card and cash payments, could not be posted accurately upon their receipt by billers because of missing or incorrect data associated with the transactions. The report concluded that the costs of handling approximately 130 million exceptions in 2011 totaled $720 million for financial institutions.
Unger noted that such billing errors also cause reputational damage to financial institutions, but QR codes can help minimize that damage. "If the consumer scans the QR code - instead of entering the data - there should not be any data entry errors, thus no (or much fewer) exceptions when compared to customers who enter data themselves," he said. NACHA said the goal of the guidelines is to establish a single, standardized QR code format to be employed by financial institutions and billers that will provide "certainty for biller and banking clients" and ensure a "consistent experience for consumers." Payment businesses can register to participate in the evaluation at https://cebp.nacha.org/Qrcodes.
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