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The Balancing Act between Security and Customer Experience for Bill Payments

According to a recent Ovum and ACI Global Payments Insight survey, 50 percent of corporations report they had payments data stolen in the past 12 months, up from 22 percent the year before. And not surprisingly, those breached should expect to lose customers; 83 percent of consumers indicated they plan to stop spending with a company for several months after a breach (per the survey). Yet, these same customers prioritize ease and convenience over security when making a bill payment.

It is clear that the industry merits change – and security-first innovation is one way to better protect both billers and consumers.

Innovation hasn’t focused on security

Top drivers of payments innovation, according to executives surveyed, include responding to competition, entering new markets and improving customer experience. Security ranks only at #7 as a driver of payments innovation.

Corporations report that the number one barrier to innovation is security requirements. How can we think differently to embrace new heights of security and innovation? Or in other words, is it possible to have our cake and eat it too?

Consumer experience trumps security

67 percent of corporations report they would not make improvements to fraud measures if they add friction to the consumer bill payment experience. Consumers agree – they rank ease as more important than security when paying their bills.

With the cost of data breaches rising to more than $8 million per breach in the U.S., we need security innovations that improve customer experience while increasing their confidence.

Several innovations that improve security and the customer experience are focused on the call center

The call center channel receives a lot of attention for improving security since company employees commit 34 percent of data breaches. New and innovative ways to secure payment data at the call center are now available, including:

  1. Companies that take bill payments storing tokens in place of card or bank account numbers in their systems. This overcomes a chief reason why customers won’t sign up for recurring payments – distrust in their personal security. A bonus is that when the process of setting up recurring payments feels secure to customers, twice as many consumers use recurring payments.
  2. Call center agents can initiate payments using stored payment methods (masked) without adding new cards.
  3. Customers enter credit card numbers into their phone while still in communication with call center agents – card data is securely loaded into the system behind the scenes without exposure to the agent.

Developer portals may create exposure

Corporations that offer developer portals and interfaces for use by third parties have a higher incidence of stolen payments data (65% vs 40%). Fast-moving companies eager to innovate may inadvertently leave the door open to hackers. Clearly there is a desire for innovation, but how can it be done while also prioritizing payments security?

I propose three ways below, and if you have any you’d like to add, I welcome your comments on this post:

  1. Strong central function driving innovation that also has security innovation in its charter
  2. Prioritization of emerging security technologies
  3. Emphasis on both security and innovation as part of team members’ annual goals

New payment options broaden security scope

92 percent of corporations currently have new bill payment options in development. This means new ways to delight consumers and increase revenues, but also new hatches to batten down.

The most popular payment technologies in development by corporations right now include:

  • Virtual collection agents (40%)
  • Real-time payments (40%)
  • eBilling optimized for mobile device (38%)

Corporations must constantly add new payment options to keep up with changing consumer demands. Using a single secure platform to add new options allows you to accept new ways to pay while maintaining security.

Outsourcing Alone Won’t Stop Data Breaches

As the data on developer portal breaches hints, we can’t just make payments security someone else’s problem. Corporations don’t avoid data breaches just by hiring third parties to process payments; they rely upon the right partner with the right security solutions in place.

I previously wrote about the top 10 cyber security practices of cloud payment providers, and this is a list that will grow, as 87 percent of corporations now have a ‘cloud first’ strategy for all new software procurement. Outsourcing payment processing remains a high priority, with 70 percent of corporations now processing payments through outsourced providers and only 30 percent using in-house data centers.

92 percent of corporations added new security software or services

While security doesn’t top the charts for payments innovation drivers, most corporations are making improvements. In fact:

  • 92 percent have invested in new security software or services
  • 89 percent have engaged with security experts
  • 87 percent have placed greater limits on employee access to consumer data

Security-first innovation should be prioritized

More than nine out of ten companies adding new security software in the past 12 months line up with one of the seven habits of highly innovative organizations – investment focused on delivering new capabilities.

But to stay ahead of nimble cybercriminals, we need security-first innovation that incorporates each of these seven habits, which show that it (security-first innovation) is not a single project – it is an ethos, which includes:

  • Management having a strong understanding of technology
  • Technology at the core of the business needs the flexibility to support change
  • Responsibility for shaping and delivering innovation and improvement sits with all employees

This new ethos must address these top 12 threats to payments security.

Secure consumers’ emotions

Consumers are seeking more than just data security; they also want the emotional security that their finances will be safe in the future. As one consumer said, “help me not screw up my finances.”

Customers don’t want to worry about making mistakes with their money. They want easier ways to understand where they sit with their finances. Corporations offer this with notifications and easy-to-read bills. Then, after knowing what to do, consumers crave simpler ways to pay.

You can balance payment security and customer experience with an innovative payment solution provider

Leading payment providers are well versed in the balancing act between security and customer satisfaction. The next generation of billing payment and presentment services offers greater flexibility for consumers to receive bills and make payments, while increasing the trust that their financial information is secure.

Find out more how ACI Worldwide can help you with this balancing act with our innovative billing, payment and communication services.

Director of Product Management

Marc Sczesnak serves as Director of Product Management for ACI Worldwide and has held numerous leadership roles in the financial services industry at Chase, Citi, US Bank and retailers Sears and Macys.  Most recently before joining ACI, Marc lead TD’s North American Retail Card Services business as President. Marc lead the business to achieve a 27% Compound Annual Growth Rate over his last three years at TD with a 40% return on invested capital.  Marc also orchestrated the rebranding of the Macys Star Rewards program and the launch of the largest Gold MasterCard program at Sears.  Marc writes about the convergence of marketing, loyalty and payment processing. He believes in the untapped potential in your most frequent consumer touchpoint – your electronic bill. By introducing interactive eBilling, Marc sees organizations improving their customer experience, lowering costs and increasing consumer touchpoints.