Well-designed online bill pay programs offer significant benefits to credit unions. According to the Boston Consulting Group, active online bill pay customers are 98 percent more profitable than the average offline customer. Additionally, a survey conducted by CheckFree, The Marketing Workshop, Inc, and Harris Interactive, found that bill pay users are 62 percent more likely to stay with their financial institution, creating loyalty and a chance to establish the credit union as the member’s primary financial institution.
The credit union industry has not fully embraced online bill pay and its potential. More than half of the nation’s 72 million online households pay at least one bill online. Yet only 31 percent of credit unions offer online bill pay services. By comparison, 65 percent of community banks offer online bill pay. Furthermore, of those credit unions that do offer online bill pay, many are failing to maximize the potential return.
Source: Grant Thornton, LLP and Callahan's Peer-to-Peer Software
The Future of Online Bill Pay
With technological advances, member expectations have increased and “plain vanilla” bill pay services are no longer sufficient. Credit unions, therefore, need to focus on transforming their bill pay services into comprehensive online bill management programs. A first step towards achieving this goal is to offer electronic billing capabilities.
Electronic bills (e-bills) are online billing statements that provide the same information as a typical paper bill, but are delivered directly to a user’s bill pay account or email. With e-bills, members can see what and who they owe and make payment through the credit union’s online bank without ever receiving the paper bill or visiting the biller’s website.
Allowing members to view and receive all of their monthly bills at the credit union website reinforces the credit union as the primary financial institution. Further customer data suggests that the marketplace is enthusiastic about e-billing capabilities. A CheckFree survey found that when online bill pay programs include e-bills, users are 80% more likely to recommend their bill pay service to others. The survey also found that when bill pay programs include e-bills, 60% of users were satisfied. This number drops to 55% when e-bills are not offered.