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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 22, 2013 • Issue 13:07:02

How consumer demands and biller priorities align

By Eric Leiserson

As more consumers turn to their smartphones to conduct financial transactions, offering mobile bill presentment and payment (MBPP) provides a new opportunity for billers of all sizes and across all verticals to profitably engage with customers.

Research from two recent studies reveals consumer preferences and behaviors, and provides insights into how billers view the mobile billing and payment opportunity. Analysis of the findings of both studies have identified where consumer demands for bill payment options and biller priorities for efficient operations align.

Consumer interest in mobile billing and payment

According to the 2012 Billing Household Survey, conducted by Fiserv, the top functions consumers would like their billers to offer via a mobile browser or app are the ability to pay their bills (76 percent) followed by the ability to view bill information (66 percent). And, according to the survey, a growing number of households are making mobile bill payments. In the past year alone, mobile bill payments among smartphone owners increased by 41 percent.

Participants in the survey who paid a bill via mobile phone identified the following as their top reasons for doing so:

  • Convenience
  • Time savings
  • Anytime, anywhere access

The survey also found that almost one-third of respondents currently not using MBPP are interested in paying and receiving bills on their smartphones via a mobile browser or mobile app.

Mobile billing and payment can drive e-bill adoption

Another interesting consideration for billers is the role mobile billing and payment can play in increasing paperless e-bill adoption. The portability and anytime, anywhere nature of mobile devices can help to overcome the most significant barrier to a consumer signing up for paperless billing - the fear of forgetting to pay the amount owed without a paper bill to serve as a reminder.

Mobile bill-due alerts and reminders can mitigate this perceived risk. According to the billing household survey, 59 percent of consumers who pay bills at a biller's website would be interested in receiving alerts and payment-due reminders, and 71 percent said receiving such alerts would increase the likelihood that they would turn away from paper bills in favor of e-bills.

Billers' priorities for the mobile channel

Another recent study - the Biller Mobile Bill Pay Benchmark Study, which was conducted by BlueFlame Consulting LLC and commissioned by Fiserv - surveyed more than 50 billers, including utilities, municipalities, financial service providers, insurance companies and telecommunication providers. When asked about the specific benefits mobile billing and payment provide, the billers identified that the services:

  • Enhance the customer experience
  • Expand transactional capabilities to new customer segments, such as the underbanked population
  • Increase adoption of lower cost paperless billing and payment options

Billers see the mobile channel as a way to provide their organizations with value and benefits, especially in terms of billing and payment. In fact, 82 percent of billers surveyed in the benchmark study believe mobile will deliver incremental to significant gains in paperless billing and payment adoption.

Consumer behavior and biller priorities align

Consumers' desire to use the mobile channel to view bills and make payments is mirrored by billers' priorities for mobile functionality, with bill payment ranking as the highest priority mobile initiative.

As with the online channel, billers must ensure that billing and payment are a focal point of an enterprise mobile strategy. This includes featuring billing and payment prominently on mobile browser home pages and mobile apps to ensure people can quickly and easily find mobile billing and payment options.

Other functions that billers perceive as critical for maximizing the customer experience and promoting adoption of the mobile channel include:

  • Bill service updates
  • Payment alerts
  • Paperless e-bill presentment

Mobile drives relationships with key demographics

Demographically, generation Y and affluent households are critical segments to watch as their use of portable digital devices make them more likely to be early adopters of MBPP. Additionally, with smartphone adoption spread across the consumer spectrum, many offline consumers who have not had access to the Internet now do. This means billers have the opportunity to boost self-service and increase electronic bill presentment and payment.

Mobile billing and payment is rapidly evolving and has reached a point where billers can identify viable business and technology strategies for effective and cost-efficient deployment of the mobile payment choices consumers now want. To respond to consumer preferences, billers can turn to multifaceted, outsourced solutions to deliver mobile web, apps and text alerting that will satisfy the mobile bill payment needs of consumers while also enhancing business value. end of article

Eric Leiserson is a Senior Research Analyst at Fiserv, where he is responsible for the development of consumer-related electronic billing and payment research, adoption strategies and marketing programs. He has conducted numerous primary research projects and webinars in the areas of green marketing, consumer segmentation, longitudinal surveys, web usability and focus groups. Prior to joining Fiserv, Leiserson held marketing and sales positions at Unisys Corp. and Intuit Inc. Contact him at eric.leiserson@fiserv.com.

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