ACI Blog

Data Security Is Table Stakes for Bill Payment – Communication Can Be the Competitive Differentiator

More than 80 percent of consumers are at least somewhat concerned about online identity theft, and nearly half are concerned about the safety of their personal information when paying online, according to the latest ACI Speedpay Pulse. But, despite these concerns, consumers have embraced the convenience that digital technology brings to their daily lives. Fortunately, these new digital experiences have been positive and are driving consumer confidence in data security: nearly half of those surveyed believe their data is safer than it was five years ago.

This increased confidence is likely the result of billers improving their data security systems and, more notably, educating their customers about the measures they have taken to keep people’s personal information safe. Raising awareness of security measures inherent in digital payment methods can serve to increase consumer trust – and even drive adoption of these payment methods.

In fact, according to recent data from Edelman’s Trust Barometer, 64 percent of consumers cite trust as a key consideration for interacting with brands. Since consumers’ trust can make all the difference in terms of customer retention, how billers communicate and educate about payment security is just as important as their technology offerings.

Be transparent

Building trust is a tricky process that begins and ends with transparency. When it comes to payment security, customers should (and indeed, want to) be kept in the loop about the safety of their own information. According to the ACI Speedpay Pulse, more than 30 percent of consumers believe companies should educate customers about how they are keeping personal information secure. Furthermore, if crisis does strike, it is important to communicate openly and honestly, as nearly half (45.6%) of consumers feel companies should be transparent if a breach does happen and convey the incident immediately.

Share best practices

Many of today’s consumers take added security measures, given the options that digital technology provides for how and when we pay our bills. In fact, 46.9 percent of consumers have taken active steps towards protecting themselves online — not just creating strong passwords, but signing up for mobile banking alerts and using two-factor authentication.

It is critical for billers to make customers aware of the security steps they can take and how those steps will safeguard their own information. According to the ACI Speedpay Pulse, 24.3 percent of consumers said companies should provide tips on how customers can be proactive in securing their information. This includes reminding them about optimal password guidelines and explaining why payment alerts are an important tool to stay informed about account activity. Such steps can ensure safety on both ends of the transaction and further establish a relationship built on trust.

Embrace flexibility

Security technology will not reach its full potential unless billers continually adjust based on their customers’ changing needs. It’s important to respond to the evolving security landscape and be nimble enough to address any issues that customers face as they happen, especially as hackers become more sophisticated. This will lead to customers having more positive interactions with their billers. This flexibility should also extend across operations, beyond security, to help build brand affinity with offerings like flexible payment plans and a wide range of payment channels.

Trust in American companies has declined in the past year; and at the same time, fraudsters are growing more sophisticated in their attacks. As billers battle to keep threats out, it’s important not to push customers away as well. Keeping customers informed by teaching them about the security measures available, and putting their interests at the forefront of decision-making, can result in a more holistic approach to payment security for billers across the board.

Interested in learning more about how billers can up the ante when it comes to security that exceeds customers’ expectations? View our Trend Report: Secure Bill Payments Solidify Consumer Trust.

Interim Chief Technology Officer

Raj Vaidyanathan is ACI's interim chief technology officer. In this role, he leads ACI's technology and operations organization, focused on developing and running world-class payments software products. Raj joined ACI in 2012 with the acquisition of S1. He has held a number of senior leadership roles in technology and operations, most recently as head of merchant and fraud product development. He previously served as head of product development for our biller segment. Earlier in his career, he served as vice president of product development, director of professional services and lead architect at S1. He has also held key development roles at AT&T and NIIT. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in computer science from Karnatak University in India and an MBA in international business from Georgia State University.