Developing the best possible payments experience for customers should be top of mind for every biller, and yet, consumers’ expectations for a faster payments process have largely been unmet. A new ACI Speedpay Pulse study reveals that if consumers don’t get what they want, they are willing to go elsewhere in order to get it.

Following are the findings of the study and what billers must do to reduce customer attrition.

Embracing the age of “instant”

The average consumer’s preferences for sending and receiving payments has changed, and speed is at the center of it. Offerings of instant gratification across the internet, whether through same-day delivery from eCommerce businesses or immediate responses through social media have driven consumers’ need for immediate satisfaction to the extent that it has become table stakes for companies around the globe. A quick Google search will demonstrate the prevalence of “instant”— instant savings, instant pay, instant transfer, instant upgrade, instant delivery and so on.

This trend is especially reflected in bill payments. According to the Speedpay Pulse research, in the last year, the number of consumers who have made an “urgent” or same-day payment has risen by 8 percent. Meanwhile, 46 percent of consumers check their payments source immediately to see if a payment has been processed, as compared to 36 percent in 2020. In addition, 27 percent would be willing to pay a small fee if it meant that their payment would process faster, as compared to 14 percent earlier this year.

Going beyond just wanting or expecting speed, for many customers, it is an actual deal breaker. Our most recent research also found that 35 percent of consumers would consider changing their payments channel or method to have payments process faster. This increase results from advances in and the rising popularity of person-to-person (P2P) and fintech payment platforms. More consumers are adopting the use of services such as Venmo, PayPal and Zelle to make P2P payments and delighting in the ease of use and speed these platforms provide. Now, new fintech and bill pay platforms have set their sights on consumers who are frustrated with antiquated solutions still used by many traditional financial institutions. 

As a result, speed has become essential to payments technology. Enhancements to mobile apps, P2P payment services, digital assistants and mobile wallets are bringing more to the customer than ever before with faster, frictionless payment experiences. In addition, billers are constantly looking for ways to reduce their receivables collection period. This is of particular importance today, as companies that deferred customer payment obligations during the pandemic are now seeking to quickly recover amassed accounts receivables.

What billers need to know

As the use of these new platforms becomes more prevalent, consumers are becoming conditioned to expect a similar experience wherever they make online payments; bill pay is at the forefront of that expectation, since consumers must inevitably pay multiple household bills each month. These varied payment experiences lead consumers to question the complexity and longer processing times they encounter in traditional bill payment channels and compare them to the frictionless and instantaneous experience created by newer P2P and fintech platforms.

With this in mind, there are more parts of the speed equation that billers might consider in order to develop the ideal experience for their customers. For example, it’s easy to miss the vast number of payment gateways and processors available in the market that vary when it comes to cost and time to settle payments and recover returns.

While billers may be tempted to go it alone and establish direct relationships with processors touting speed or cost savings, they may overlook the tech debt they will incur in maintaining a PCI-compliant solution that can keep up with evolving consumer expectations or miss out on efficiencies that can be created for their internal operations through consolidated remittance and reporting. Leveraging turnkey payment solutions with a partner with extensive industry experience and expertise, such as ACI, can eliminate a lot of these unknowns and allow billers to focus on their primary business.

Beyond consumer bill pay

When it comes to payments technology, the biggest opportunity for growth is undoubtedly in consumer satisfaction. This extends beyond the bills that consumers pay—consumers also want to receive their money faster. 

Often, there are processes leading up to a disbursement that may have introduced some level of frustration with the time required to execute an insurance claim or consumer loan. As funding is typically one of the final steps in this process, it can also be a final opportunity to demonstrate a company’s agility, digital footprint or commitment to customer satisfaction. With instant funding options such as PayPal, Venmo and push to debit, money gets into customers’ hands within seconds.

There are a number of ways billers can increase their speed throughout the billing and payments cycle with capabilities such as bill delivery straight to a customer’s mobile wallet app, and quick and easy payment experiences that employ the fastest methods of transaction processing. Leveraging these solutions, customers can receive their bills and make their payments faster than ever before.

For more information on consumer bill pay preferences, check out this interactive data guide showcasing new data and trends on monthly bill payments, payment channels, the rise of mobile bill payments, security concerns and more.   

Senior Solution Consultant

Kim Vann is a senior solution consultant who joined ACI in April 2021. Based in Oklahoma, Kim has close to 20 years of experience in the electronic payments industry, providing subject matter expertise on payment brand rules and compliance, customer experience and market trends to some of the nation’s largest billers in the Utility, Telco, Consumer Finance and Insurance industries. Outside of work, Kim enjoys spending family time outdoors and in the kitchen or cheering on her teenagers in sports and life.