Customers Want Digital Bill Pay Convenience

Consumers pay a lot of bills. 

This used to be a simple matter of handing over cash or writing a check.  Today, consumer transactions involve multiple payment methods through a variety of payment channels.  And digital payment options continue to roll-out in the marketplace driven by consumer demand and developing technology. 

In fact, digital payment usage is growing aggressively. A Statista report cites that digital payments in the U.S. accounted for $645 billion dollars in 2016 – that’s 29% of global transaction volume.  With the U.S. leading the technology development and innovation for digital payments, the estimated growth rate for usage is 13% over the next five years.

Keeping Your Customers Satisfied

Your customers expect choice and convenience — choosing how, when and where they want to pay their bills.  In fact, the average U.S. household uses three or more different bill payment channels monthly – from online biller sites and mobile wallets, to in-person and call center payments.  Adding to this complexity, a Wells Fargo study cites 19% of households actually change how they pay bills from month to month.

Admittedly, digital payment usage varies by type of activity and by age.  Consumers who make an online purchase, pay a bill, send or receive money using a web browser, text message, or smartphone app — are more likely to be Millennials or Generation Xers.  But Aite research shows there’s not much difference in generations when it comes to digital versus traditional paper check bill payment.  Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) pay 60% of their bills online;  Millennials (born between 1981-2000) pay 61% of their bills online;  compared to 52% for baby boomers (1946-1964) and 42% for seniors. 

You’re not trying to pick one winning payment channel here.  These days, it’s more than just good business to offer your customers multiple options — it’s a necessity to adapt to your customers’ billing and payment preferences (or they may take their business elsewhere).  

Digital payments provide a convenient, affordable way to transact and manage your money.

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Added Value Benefits

According to an Accenture study, 88% of consumers who use digital options to pay bills are satisfied by the service.  But aside from convenience, consumers also see more benefits in using digital payment channels. 

Millennials and Generation Xers in particular are motivated by the ancillary features — electronic loyalty rewards, discounts, account alerts and receipts.  An OpenMarket study found that 76% of Millennials prefer to receive texts over calls from companies — it’s less invasive, more personal and makes them feel valued.  They’re accustomed to swipes and clicks, not calls and meetings.  59% receive text account information, payment reminders, and fraud alerts.  And 62% receive text product offers or coupons.

Why is engaging a younger audience so important?  The Millennial generation plays a major role in driving the recent changes in payment processing.  Making up about one-fourth of the US population, Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers and they’re three times the size of Generation X. 

Millennial influence cannot be ignored.

The Customer Experience

It’s not that payment functions are broken — cash is accepted, cards swipe, chips insert and taps pay.  But ancillary features are the game changers.  Digital payments breathe new life into paper and plastic, giving your customers control over their account balances, product offers, loyalty and rewards.  Ongoing technology advances will soon make it possible to connect with your customers before, during and after their purchases.

Digital payments provide a convenient, affordable way for consumers to transact and manage their money.  But the value delivered beyond the payments transaction is your competitive edge — an opportunity to control the overall customer experience, and to ensure that payment methods seamlessly integrate into your customers’ everyday lifestyle. 

For more information about First Data digital payment solutions, please submit your questions and comments.