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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 28, 2016 • Issue 16:03:02

The Mobile Buzz:
Mobile bill pay on fast track

Visits to biller websites from mobile devices increased 42 percent year-over-year in 2015, according to a study commissioned by Fiserv Inc. in which Blueflame Consulting LLC surveyed utility, municipality, insurance, telecom and financial organizations. It found that one in four visits to biller homepages came from mobile users, and 33 percent of U.S. online households pay one or more bills using mobile devices.

On biller homepages, the top three mobile visitor activities identified were bill payment (51 percent), view bill and balance information (44 percent) and customer self-service (32 percent). The reasons most often cited by mobile users for making mobile bill payments included ease of use (47 percent), convenience (44 percent), not near a PC (42 percent), time saving (41 percent) and anytime access (40 percent).

"Consumers want financial services that fit effortlessly into their lives – mobile offerings provide that compelling convenience," said Jim Lester, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Biller Solutions at Fiserv. "Mobile bill pay offers the proven ability to draw customers to the mobile platform on a recurring basis, leading to a more engaged and satisfied customer."

Researchers also found that more organizations are adapting websites to meet growing mobile customer demand. According to Fiserv, 54 percent of billers surveyed now offer mobile payments, up 68 percent from the previous year. Of those surveyed whose websites were not mobile-ready, 28 percent indicated they planned to add mobile bill pay within the next 6 to 12 months.

Rising above the challenges

In analyzing data from the study, Fiserv noted that while mobile bill pay is still relatively nascent, a number of small to midsize billers now have the capability to offer it as a payment option. Fiserv also pointed out that to be effective, mobile bill pay and presentment (MBPP) programs must offer an effortless experience to attract loyal users.

"When they use mobile bill pay, they want the same simple, easy-to-use mobile experience they're used to with other service providers and retailers," Eric Leiserson, Senior Research Analyst at Fiserv, wrote in a blog post. "Easy reading and navigation – with minimal need to resize, pan and scroll – enable a frictionless bill pay experience."

Additional factors arise in evaluating mobile bill pay, as well. "These benefits also bring elevated customer expectations, technology demands, complexity and risk," Lester said. "Billers need to act by implementing a comprehensive MBPP strategy that incorporates simple and easy user experiences, robust security, compliance protocols and payment cost optimization."

Of the mobile bill pay challenges most often identified by organizations, data security remains a top concern for 82 percent; adherence to applicable regulations and Payment Card Industry security standards are paramount for 71 percent. On the plus side, 73 percent of those surveyed felt mobile bill pay could improve efficiency and reduce costs associated with mailing paper bills, especially if mobile customer self-service is offered as a complementary feature.

Ultimately, the overall cost savings must outweigh the expense of revamping and managing the MBPP website features customers desire. "People expect billers to offer mobile bill pay on apps and mobile browsers, in addition to paperless e-bills, notifications and mobile due-date alerts," Leiserson wrote.

Creating an ISO bonanza

With the recent surge in mobile bill pay activity, the number of card-funded payments has also risen. Seventy-four percent of billers surveyed accept card-funded payments; 78 percent expect MBPP to spur further growth of card-funded bill payments. Even though credit and prepaid card payments are more expensive to process due to interchange fees, the door for ISO participation in the biller segment has opened.

Fiserv believes now is the time for third-party mobile payment providers to engage. "As the billing and payment environment grows more complex, billers will increasingly seek out firms that enable robust features and possess the knowledge to navigate key challenges," Leiserson noted. "External partners can provide the expertise, breadth, and scale to help billers manage the highly complex billing and payment ecosystem."

Fiserv compiled data analyses and biller recommendations in two documents, the Fourth Annual Biller Mobile Bill Payment Benchmark Study and Mobile Billing and Payment: Consumer Preferences and Billers' Strategic Response. For more information, visit https://www.fiserv.com/biller-mobile. end of article

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