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The latest ACI Speedpay Pulse study on billing, payment and communication trends outlines recent movements in the industry regarding consumer sentiments toward, and use of, mobile wallets, real-time payments and the overall impact of the pandemic. While most of the results reflect an industry that is ripe for greater technological adoption, one trend has the potential to delay progression: consumers are increasingly skeptical of the safety of their data when it comes to digital bill payments.

Before other steps are taken to move consumers into the era of faster payments, we as an industry must address the issue of security in bill payments. If handled properly, it will be a key driver for success. If pushed aside, the problem will only grow, and it will delay adoption not only among consumers, but businesses as well.

Consumers are ready for better ways to pay…

The new data shows that consumers are open to paying bills in new ways. For instance, in 2021, more consumers said they would consider using a mobile wallet to pay bills in the future, when compared to 2020. And the use of mobile wallet payment methods increased from 26 percent in 2020 to 30 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, the desire for faster payments is also on the rise — so much so that 31 percent of consumers said they would consider changing their payments channel or method if it meant the payment would process faster, an increase from 26 percent in 2020.

COVID-19 has only expedited these trends. In fact, 21 percent of consumers use digital channels to pay more bills now than they did prior to March 2020. But the situation has also affected many consumers’ financial standing, with 28 percent experiencing decreased income as a result of the pandemic. When every dollar matters, the need for successful, accurate and safe transactions becomes even more important to both consumers and billers.

While there’s potential for this shift to digital channels to grow in a way that positively impacts billers across the country, billers must have the proper foundation when it comes to security.

…but they are losing trust when it comes to security

New data in ACI Speedpay Pulse outlines changing consumer sentiment regarding security. Fewer consumers believe that their data is more secure now than it was five years ago (44%), compared to 2020 (48%). One in four consumers changes  their passwords monthly for the online portals or mobile apps they use to pay bills, which reinforces their sentiment when it comes to security. In addition, only 29 percent of consumers believe that companies properly educate their customers on how they keep data secure, a decline from 33 percent in 2020.

Getting back to the basics

When consumers were asked what technology would make them feel more secure when utilizing mobile platforms,  passcodes (42%), fingerprint technology (34%) and facial recognition (24%) were the top three. Biometric authentication reduces friction, increasing consumer confidence while driving more immediate payments for the biller. Moving forward, implementation of such technology may be key to driving usage of mobile wallets for bill payments.

But many consumers still need information and help from companies. For example, while consumer interest in mobile wallet payments continues to increase, there is an opportunity for billers to address security of mobile wallets, about which 38 percent of respondents were unsure. Consumer education about how information is being safeguarded and how they can leverage biometric technology to secure their accounts can further increase trust and adoption. In addition, consumer engagement through mobile notifications and reminders can help increase comfort with this payments channel.

Read more about how billers can adapt to a changing payments security landscape or delve into the 2021 ACI Speedpay Pulse.

Senior Solution Consultant

Tom Donovan is a senior solution consultant who joined ACI Worldwide in early 2019 as part of the Speedpay/Walletron acquisition. Based in Philadelphia, Tom spent the first five years of his career as a Java Developer prior to transitioning to sales engineering, and prior to joining ACI was Walletron’s director of implementation. Outside of work, Tom enjoys playing ice hockey, flying his drone and traveling to attend as many college football games as possible with friends.