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While consumers have spent more time at home and more time on their mobile devices, a growing number of them have set up mobile bill notifications — and billers need to take notice, especially when it comes to advances like mobile wallets.

Mobile wallets have changed the payments landscape over the past decade and for good reason, as they allow consumers to pay through their devices without the need for physical credit or debit cards or inputting personal information with each payment. As a result, consumers using mobile wallets tend to make their payment sooner, many within hours of receiving a notification. Billers benefit from this faster payment as well as saving on costs when consumers opt to receive digital statements in the wallet instead of paper.

However, while mobile wallet adoption might be on the rise generally, adoption in the bill pay space doesn’t reflect the increase seen elsewhere.

Addressing gaps in adoption for bill payment

From 2011, when Google became the first major company to announce a device-centric NFC wallet to Apple Pay’s launch in 2014, mobile wallet technology went through a rapid early evolution. Fast-forward to today when, according to our recent ACI Speedpay Pulse survey, more than 1 in 4 of those who own a smartphone currently use mobile wallet payment methods. For those individuals, they use them often — almost half use them at least once a week and the majority are using between 1 and 3 different wallets.

Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 4 consumers use the mobile wallet native to their smartphone to store non-payment items like airplane or event tickets, indicating growing comfort with mobile wallets, even if they are not utilizing them for payment purposes. In addition, consumers have become more reliant on their smartphones in general, keeping track of their responsibilities using meeting alerts and even bill payment reminders. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 consumers prefer to receive mobile text or app notifications about their bills.

While consumers are on board with mobile wallets, there is still work to be done for consumers to fully adopt mobile wallets for bill payments. While there has been a steady (yet modest) increase in the number of consumers using mobile wallets to pay bills over the last few years, the percentage of those who would consider using mobile wallets to pay bills has leveled off more recently, at 1 in 3 consumers.

How can billers bridge the gap between consumers’ increasing use of smartphones and mobile wallets, and their lack of adoption for bill payments? The answer lies in addressing concerns that are preventing customers from using the technology, which, if done successfully, can drive higher customer satisfaction.

Easing customer concerns

Now is an opportune time for billers to offer new technologies and provide customers with the digital channels they want when it comes to payments. But how can billers do this while addressing customer concerns that might be causing slow adoption?

Focus on customer education

According to the ACI Speedpay Pulse, 17.4 percent of consumers are hesitant to pay bills through mobile wallets because they don’t know how to use the technology. Customer education should not be a one-time, one-size-fits-all program. Consumers who don’t know as much about mobile wallets as a bill payment channel may require more education than others.

Be transparent about security

Mobile wallets are inherently more secure than other payment options, as consumers don’t need to re-enter card information to make payments (due to tokenization of card details) and they can use the biometric security capabilities of their device. However, with more than half of consumers concerned that mobile wallets aren’t secure, it’s essential that billers focus on not only delivering best-in-class security, but telling customers what they are doing to secure personal data.

Cater to your customer
Younger consumers have quickly adopted mobile wallet payments. For instance, Millennials who make mobile wallet payments make them frequently, with 55 percent using them once a week or more. Whether it’s their age, generation or general position in life, it is always better to meet your customer where they are.

Explain the benefits of mobile wallets

Despite some consumers saying they are concerned that mobile wallets aren’t a reliable payment method, they offer a convenient and consistent way to pay bills. Sharing the benefits can help customers understand that.

Consumers continue to spend more time at home these days due to the pandemic, and smartphone usage is higher than ever before. In fact, Americans averaged about four hours a day on their smartphones in 2020, compared to three hours a day in 2019. As devices continue to play a major role in consumers’ daily lives, a shift toward digital payments, and specifically mobile wallets, is necessary to stay competitive. If billers commit to facilitating adoption, mobile wallets can help create a future in which bill payment is far more convenient, seamless and fast for both customers and billers.

For more data on mobile wallets and takeaways for billers, check out the ACI Speedpay Pulse Mobile Wallets Trend Report.

Director of Product Management

Mahala Johnson serves as Director of Product Management at ACI Worldwide. In this role Mahala leads product strategy for real-time payments and disbursements, and drives innovation for billing and payment solutions serving healthcare payers and providers. Mahala has 16 years of product management experience in the financial services industry, including leadership roles at First Data, Western Union and eBay.