The 2013 Billing Household Survey from Fiserv, a provider of financial services technology solutions, has found consumers are paying their bills in more ways than ever before, with the number of consumers paying bills from smartphones and tablets growing significantly. Gen Y in particular prefers a variety of channels and immediate payment options, and uses the mobile channel to manage billing and payment more than other generations. As more of these young consumers take on bill payment responsibility, a growing Gen Y effect will influence how billers are innovating and offering services based on changing consumer preferences.
Mobile Billing and Payment Proliferates as Smartphone Use Grows
Mobile bill payment usage doubled from 8 million U.S. online households in 2012 to 16 million in 2013. This growth was driven primarily by smartphone owners, among whom mobile bill payment surged 150 percent. Consumers who pay bills using their mobile device do so primarily for its convenience (70 percent), anytime access (55 percent) and time savings (49 percent). It is important for billers to have a mobile-optimized website for bill payment as mobile-optimized bank and biller websites are the most popular choice when paying bills with a smartphone, although apps for billers and banks were also popular and grew rapidly.
Consumers are Paying Bills in More Ways
The survey found that 83 percent of consumers are using two or more channels to pay their bills each month. The average number of bill payment methods consumers use ticked up 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, rising to an average of 3.2 channels each month. While the number of U.S. online households that pay a bill by check declined from 61 percent in 2012 to 53 percent in 2013, the number of households using mobile and tablet for bill payment gained ground, resulting in the higher number of channels used overall.
Many consumers continue to use established methods of paying bills like checks, phone or in-person payments, and 2 out of 3 believe it is important for billers to offer multiple ways to pay bills. The Gen Y effect is evident here as 74 percent of Gen Y respondents consider offering multiple payment options important, compared to 67 percent of all respondents.
“While new bill payment channels such as mobile and tablet are coming on strong, traditional channels remain in use, creating a need for billers to support an ever-growing set of billing and payments, channels and payment types,” said Jardon Bouska, division president, Biller Solutions, Fiserv. “Americans, particularly Gen Y, are hungry for multiple options for digital bill presentment and payment. Fiserv provides the most comprehensive suite of billing and payment options to billers and financial institutions, enabling them to realize and unlock the new opportunities a shifting consumer bill payment landscape offers.”
Additional survey findings showed:
- Mobile-Specific Capabilities Can Drive Digital Bill Payments – The Billing Household Survey found that the number one motivator to pay bills or pay more bills using a smartphone is the use of an app and smartphone camera to take a picture of the bill, cited by 36 percent of respondents. Using the camera to capture then auto-populate bill payment fields streamlines the bill payment process, and this finding reinforces the fact that consumers desire more engaging, simple and quick user experiences facilitated by their mobile device.
- Alerts and Reminders Can Boost E-Bill Adoption – Actionable payment due alerts and reminders can help billers improve their reputation among consumers and increase the adoption of e-bills, which contain all the same information as paper bills, but are delivered online or to a mobile device. Nearly 3 out of 4 households that expressed an interest in receiving alerts and reminders said they would have a more positive perception of a biller that sends them a reminder to pay a bill. Sixty-six percent said alerts and reminders would increase the likelihood they would use paperless e-bills, most likely because alerts help consumers overcome the concern of not having a paper bill to serve as a reminder to pay.
- Tablets Have a Seat at the Table – More than 1 in 3 tablet owners had used their tablet to visit a biller site in the previous 30 days. The primary reason for the visit was to pay a bill (63 percent) followed by accessing invoice information and history (36 percent). One in four tablet owners use their tablet to pay bills at either a biller or financial institution website — an increase of 19 percent over 2012. The survey also found that 60 percent of tablet owners would like to receive e-bills on their tablet.
- Billing and Payment Drives Website Visits – More than 80 percent of consumers who visit a biller’s website do so to pay a bill, reinforcing the importance for billers to make billing and payment a prominent and strategic part of the site. Seventy-one percent of consumers who use a biller site to make payments say that online accessibility has eliminated the need to call customer care. Billers who do not provide an easy, direct and clear way for consumers to find billing and payment information and options risk abandonment and the use of higher cost channels to pay bills.