Utilities playing catch-up to bring mobile payment to customers

A survey of utility company professionals conducted earlier this month by Check revealed current trends about utility companies and their mobile bill payment strategy.

According to the survey, 75 percent of utility company professionals reported their companies do not offer a mobile bill payment experience today, and more than half of the respondents cited they want a mobile bill payment solution so they can reach customers more effectively on their preferred channel.

Across the nation, utility companies of all sizes are noticing a shift to mobile experiences, where consumers are paying bills on the fly from their mobile devices vs. reviewing paper bills and paying via paper check.

According to the survey results, utility companies’ top challenges in pushing mobile payment and billing experiences forward are (1) vagueness about mobile strategy and (2) lack of IT resources to execute. To address these challenges, utility companies are starting to build business cases and strategies that examine the cost-savings and flexibility of partnering with mobile bill payment companies vs. building or buying solutions.

Patricia Oygar, board president of Southern California water company Desert Water Agency, has navigated challenges and prioritized customer convenience at the top of their list.

“We are very pleased to offer more convenience to our valued customers,” said Oygar said.  “Mobile apps are an increasingly popular method to complete tasks, and we are always looking for new ways to innovate and benefit from improved technology.”

Utility companies, such as Desert Water Agency, Irvine Ranch Water District and Alltel, partner with Check to deliver a fast, convenient and easy mobile bill payment solution to their customers. Unlike bank bill payment services, Check’s free mobile app can be used to pay any bill anytime, anywhere and with any payment method. Giving customers a complete view into their personal finances across multiple providers, the top-rated app makes it simple to see balances, view transactions, and make payments on the fly, including same-day payments, from a mobile device.

75 percent of respondents’ companies did not offer a mobile bill payment experience, 25 percent did offer this.

51 percent of utility company professionals wanted a mobile bill payment solution to reach customers more effectively on their preferred channel (mobile).

•          To decrease billing costs, including the cost of paper bills (24 percent)

•          To increase customer engagement (18 percent)

•          To collect money faster and optimize cash flow (7 percent)

47 percent of respondents said vagueness/uncertainty about their mobile strategy posed a challenge to adopting a mobile bill payment solution.

•          Lack of IT resources/low IT priority (29 percent)

•          Budget (17 percent)

•          Security/compliance concerns (7 percent)

Survey data was collected via an online survey tool in October 2013. Data was provided by 57 utility company professionals (customer service, billing, IT and marketing groups) that represent a range of utility companies serving up to 2 million customers.

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