There’s no question about it: Increasingly, consumers want to pay their bills digitally. But many are less than enthusiastic about using banks’ online bill payment services to get the job done.
This isn’t just conjecture. In a recent survey of 2,261 adults in a wide swath of age ranges, PYMNTS and a billing service provider found overwhelming consumer interest in tools that allow for flexibility and ease in managing bills. Such interest, the study revealed, leads consumers to “work directly with billers rather than their banks” when it’s time to make payments.
By the Numbers
Digging deeper here, 63 percent of survey participants who reported that they do not use their banks’ online bill payment services said they see no reason to do so. The rationale here seems clear: More than half (52 percent) of respondents in this group noted that in their opinion, the payment experience offered by banks’ online bill payment services is “not better” than any other type of online payment solution when it comes to such features as alerts, reminders, and statement details.
Additional findings from the survey bring to light consumers’ concerns around bill payments and their desire for time-saving features in the digital payment solutions they use. Bill scheduling appears to be a key concern and driver of customer engagement, with missing a payment deemed top of mind for many consumers and more than two-thirds (69 percent) of survey participants citing a desire for bill scheduling capabilities.
What’s more, the survey results confirm consumers’ concern about late payments. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of individuals polled admitted to having made a late payment or to having missed a payment in the past 12 months. Millennials and bridge (older) Millennials were far more likely than survey participants in other groups to be guilty of a late or missed payment. Forty percent of Millennials and 38% of bridge fell into the “late or missed payment” category.
The Message for Merchants
Clearly, merchants can address the consumer preferences and concerns uncovered by and substantiated in the survey, giving customers what they feel they aren’t getting or wouldn’t get from banks’ online payment services. For example, concerns about late or missed payments—and just as importantly, the desire for payment scheduling—can be addressed with a recurring payment solution that allows consumers to “set it and forget it.” Once customers sign up for recurring (scheduled) payments, payments by credit card or ACH occur automatically on a designated date (e.g., the 1st day of each month).
Solutions like E-Complish’s RecurPay work across payment platforms (e.g., mobile, desktop, etc.) and send reminders to consumers when credit card expiration is imminent. This increases customer convenience and prevents payment interruptions.
Other payment solutions that may deliver where online bank bill payment services fall short include SMS-based options. With these solutions in place, consumers can sign up to receive text messages when payments are coming due and (in some cases, as with E-Complish’s Text2Pay solution) click a link in the text to make a payment using a pre-registered credit card or bank account.