Western Union Payments

Maximizing Mobile

Learn why you should offer multiple mobile payment options.

Mobile payment options are not simply a fad among tech-savvy consumers. They’re becoming the payment method of choice for an ever-growing number of customers. Embracing mobile payments can help companies stay relevant amid the rapidly evolving consumer landscape.

Mobile payment options come in many forms, including mobile-enabled websites that allow customers to make online payments using their mobile devices; mobile apps with payment features; and payments by text message.

By offering more than one mobile payment option, billers can help maximize the value of their payment strategy. “Consumers today have their mobile device with them 24 hours a day and billers need to have a presence on that device,” says Susan Pandy, senior director of Internet and ecommerce for NACHA — The Electronic Payments Association. “Offering multiple mobile payment options has become a necessity.”

Cut Costs and Speed Payments

Fortunately, investing in mobile doesn’t just benefit consumers. While consumers get the convenience of anytime, anywhere bill payment, billers get the benefit of being paid faster with fewer associated costs, says Karen Webster, CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, a management consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. “Accelerating cash flow cycles for many billers is a significant advantage, especially in these challenging economic times.”

When consumers make payments via mobile solutions, for billers, there are no checks to process, no paper bills to track and fewer customer service calls to manage — making the payment process entirely self-service and reducing the cost of serving those consumers, Webster says. It also increases the chance that consumers will make payments as soon as they receive an email reminder or text alert, rather than waiting until the end of the month. “Eliminating business billing administration and processing activities also gives the business the opportunity to focus on the things that add value to their customers and drive revenue,” Webster says.

How to Choose

However, implementing these mobile payment options does require some consideration, says Randy Davidson, senior solutions architect for Tectura, a global consulting, software and IT implementation service headquartered in San Mateo, Calif. Before diving into the technology, companies should define why they’re going mobile and the benefits they expect to achieve. “When you have clear strategic goals,” Davidson says, “you can define metrics to measure your success.”

To get a better grasp of current and emerging trends, Davidson says billers should consider taking these steps:

· Conduct customer surveys to find out which mobile payment options customers are using today and to get a snapshot of shifting trends.

· Look at industry analysis of smartphone penetration and payment trends.

· Review internal payment data to see how big-picture trends are playing out among the business’s own customers.

In addition, billers should look for a provider that is able to integrate with a variety of application-programming interfaces (APIs). APIs enable communication between different applications — for example, by integrating payment acceptance capabilities into an existing mobile application. The key is finding a provider that has the flexibility to work with the company’s existing technology, regardless of whether the APIs are in-house or from a third party.

In the course of their research, billers should also identify potential barriers to adoption and devise strategies to overcome them. For example, many consumers have concerns about security and data privacy when it comes to mobile payments. “If companies are going to offer these options,” Pandy says, “they need to educate their customers about their benefits and how to protect themselves.”

They also need to use marketing materials and promotions to let customers know these payment tools are available. Billers don’t need to build a separate ad campaign around these options. Rather, they should find ways to incorporate language into their current materials, such as adding a box in print advertisements touting mobile payment options or mentioning it in customer communications and paper bills.

“It’s not enough to build something new,” Davidson says. “As with any other new product or service, you need to make customers aware of what you are offering if you want them to take advantage of it.”

[1] The Western Union® Payments Money Mindset Index, January, 2014