In this day and age, consumers increasingly equate a credit union’s value with its Web site and online services. Consumers are becoming more and more technology savvy, so credit unions must continue to upgrade and enhance bill payment offerings in order to remain competitive.
Typically, a credit union enters the market with a basic service-bureau bill payment offering. Then, once bill payment takes off, the credit union realizes that it needs more control in customizing its application, integrating additional services and making changes to reduce support issues. To assist the credit union through this evolution, a bill payment supplier should provide a migration path including multiple levels of control and cost savings to grow with the credit union’s needs. It is especially important to choose a partner that can support development, avoiding the necessity of converting to another vendor when needs expand.
But how does a credit union get the most control and impact for its money? In a world where members continually are comparing online services, is there a way for credit unions to offer a highly customized, affordable online bill pay solution? Traditionally, there were two options for bill pay:
1. Service-bureau or ASP – Offers limited customization (e.g., colors, logos and banner ads). This is ideal if a credit union is new to the bill payment arena. However, if additional customization is available, it is limited and may cost more. With this option, the credit union’s up-front costs are low, but so is its control over the application.
2. In-house – Allows a credit union to host and maintain all aspects of its bill payment system (including Web pages and payment warehouse), while outsourcing payment remittance processing to a vendor. This option offers complete customization of the bill payment experience, but is very resource-intensive. Additionally, it requires significant up-front licensing and hardware investment fees, and ongoing operations costs are often high.
However, advances in technology continue to provide additional options. As more and more financial institutions are investing time and money into making their online offerings attractive, service providers have moved to create solutions that meet their needs. A third bill payment option has recently surfaced offering superior control coupled with cost savings.
3. Full customization – By separating the user interface from the business logic, the full customization option offers credit unions extensive control over the front-end interface, in order to match the home banking application, but without incurring the expense of operating an in-house bill payment system. With full customization, a credit union maintains its own bill payment Web pages while connecting to the vendor's payment warehouse. This is an ideal solution, allowing complete control over the member’s bill payment experience, while minimizing incremental costs. And, the full customization model supports the integration of other third-party applications, providing the ultimate low-cost, high-control option. Unlike the service-bureau model where a credit union relies on a third-party for enhancements, the full customization model enables the credit union to incorporate front-end improvements and changes on its own timeframe.
The full customization option enables credit unions to provide a powerful bill payment product offering, integrating seamlessly with other online applications and new features, such as bill presentment, while still keeping costs low. And because this new option gives credit unions so much control and flexibility over their online interface, they can rapidly maneuver to meet their members’ changing needs.
As the bill pay arena continues to evolve, it is critical that credit unions have robust solutions that enable them to evolve with the changing needs of members. A full-customization bill pay offering is one way to enable credit unions to easily and seamlessly grow their online bill payment offering, while decreasing operational costs.
For more information about bill payment products and services, contact a corporate credit union or Nate Truelson, national sales director, (888) 656-4050, ext. 6126. Or visit www.memberstreet.com.