Western Union Payments

EBills are a Perfect Complement to Mobile Payments

Capitalize on the ubiquity of mobile devices by incorporating eBills into your mobile strategy.

No longer are email bills (eBills) reserved exclusively for desktops. These days, customers are accessing bills from their smartphones and tablets, too — making eBills a crucial part of a comprehensive mobile payments strategy.

With faster access to bills via mobile devices, customers can pay them more promptly, resulting in timely collections for providers. Here are some important points to think about when integrating eBilling with mobile payments.
Mobile payment channels are a necessity now that the percentage of American adults who own smartphones has increased from 35 percent in May 2011 to 45 percent in September 2012.(1) “We’re also seeing the adoption of this technology across generations, cultures and socioeconomic class,” says Amy Kelly, director of product management at Western Union.

Mobile Adoption Demographics

As expected, the majority of users are younger, with 65 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 using smartphones. But older generations are also embracing this technology, with 59 percent of Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 using smartphones; and 32 percent of Americans between 50 and 64 using smartphones.(1) This growing trend is apparent even in underbanked households, where 40 percent of smartphone users who rely on their phones to access the Internet reported a household income of less than $30,000 per year.(2) “Getting a computer is more expensive than getting a smartphone,” Kelly says.
There are two criteria that consumers look for in mobile billing channels: simplicity and ease of use, Kelly says. Generally, when individuals are accessing mobile channels on the go, they have a specific task in mind. For this reason, billers should consider streamlined and uncluttered mobile interfaces that tailor functionality to a few core processes, like paying a bill or getting a reminder.

Mobile Channel Functionality

Kelly also recommends keeping the appearance of mobile bills consistent across channels. Not only does it prevent confusion, but replicating the look and feel of paper bills helps to build trust with customers over the long term.

Ease of use is another important consideration that begins with the channel’s entry point. Logging in should be a simple process that asks customers to input as little information as possible, while maintaining security, to access their account. A “remember me” function can help by requiring customers to only enter sensitive data once and then storing it for future use.
Promotion of mobile eBilling is vital to driving adoption rates. Spreading the word about a new channel through advertising can help educate customers about the benefits of mobile eBills.

Promotion

Another good idea is to implement an introductory period where customers can receive both paper and eBills, until they decide to turn off paper billing. This way, customers can become comfortable with eBilling before making a complete switch. “Don’t force them,” Kelly says. “You don’t want to alienate your customers.”

As more individuals come to rely on mobile devices to conduct daily activities, billers should consider promoting eBills on their mobile channels. “Once [consumers] have tried it, adoption is pretty steady,” Kelly says.

1 “Smartphone ownership update,” Sept. 11, 2012, The Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet & American Life Project

2 “Smartphone adoption and usage,” July 11, 2011, The Pew Research Center’s Pew Internet & American Life Project