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Shift to Mobile Payments Has Billers Trying to Keep Up

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

March 06, 2014

Shift to Mobile Payments Has Billers Trying to Keep Up

By Joe Rizzo
TMCnet Contributing Writer

It was that not long ago that the idea of mobile payments was looked at with a lot of trepidation. As is often the case, the prevailing concern was -- and mostly still is -- security. As mobile device management (MDM) software advances and provides greater support, so does the user’s confidence that their information is secure.

One of the more crucial components of mobile commerce is payments security. Each day more people are relying on their smartphones and tablets to browse and then purchase their products. There are a growing number of mobile apps from financial institutions as well as retailers that will help a customer use their smartphone to make a mobile payment.

Another option is to have the charge added to your phone bill. You would think that this is possibly the most convenient way to go about it. Instead of multiple bills to take care of at the end of the month, you have one bill that lists all of your purchases. Granted, the tradeoff will be that this bill will be higher, but you do know that the transaction is secure.

You would think that this would be the case. But, according to research commissioned by global provider of financial services technology solutions, Fiserv Inc., it seems that only 12 percent of billers have a mobile bill presentment and payment (MBPP) strategy.

Last year, Fiserv commissioned Blueflame Consulting LLC to explore the opportunities along with the progression of deployment plans for MBPP from a biller’s perspective. To gather the information, Blueflame polled business managers and decision-makers at 86 billing organizations across six industries.

It may have been slow in coming, but it appears that billers are now beginning to realize that MBPP has the potential of benefiting both themselves and their customers. According to the Second Annual Biller Mobile Bill Pay Benchmark Study, there has been a significant increase between 2012 and 2013 -- to the tune of 92 percent -- of the billers’ understanding of the added value that deploying MBPP can offer.

Robert Craig, who is the senior vice president of biller solutions at Fiserv, said “Our research indicates explosive growth of mobile bill payments. Billers have an opportunity to take advantage of this change by offering a consistent, simple and innovative user experience, which can improve customer satisfaction and lower service costs. Billers will benefit by delivering a true omni-channel billing and payment strategy to consumers, including a strong mobile presence.”

I suspect that the part of this statement that customers will notice is the lower service costs. This is a slow process. As I mentioned, the study shows that only about 12 percent of billers have developed a mobile billing and payment strategy. Of the remaining billers, almost a quarter are now saying that they are in the process of deploying such a strategy.

Another signal that the billers are moving forward can be seen by looking at the other end. The study also finds that the percentage of billers that see the development of a mobile channel as adding complexity, cost and challenges, decreased. In 2012 we were looking at a figure that represented 50 percent. This has now dropped to only 34 percent.

Of course, there are still some challenges to overcome. One of these is trying to understand consumers’ mobile preferences and expectations. This is necessary in order to build a comprehensive strategy that would provide the best mobile experience across platforms. 

You can understand what the challenges are when you realize that the survey found that 64 percent of billers neither track nor know if their company tracks whether homepage visits are coming from a mobile device, or traditional laptops and PCs.

It is obvious that there is still a lot of work that needs to be accomplished; however, Fiserv’s survey shows that acceptance and deployment has significantly increased in just one year. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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