This is the first in a series of three blog posts examining the results unveiled in recently released studies on electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP).

It wasn’t the fast and furious rocket launch anticipated by some, yet adoption of electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) remains steady – and climbing. Today’s e-presentment represents approximately 11 percent of total bills and statements, and by 2014 EBPP is expected to increase to 22 percent of total bills and statements, according to InfoTrends’ December 2010 study: “The Future of EBPP in North America.”

What’s fostering the upward EBPP trajectory are consumer preferences, advancing technologies, integrated solutions, multi-channel delivery methods, and mailers’ need to curtail costs in the form of reducing paper and postage expenses. But that also begs the questions: What’s holding EBPP back from even faster growth? And how can mailers overcome EBPP-adoption obstacles?

I’d like to examine those questions and other information presented in the InfoTrends study, beginning here with the consumer perspective. My next post will address EBPP from the mailer side. In a third post, I will discuss a separate study that calls 2016 the “tipping point” year for eBill usage.

Understanding Consumer Concerns is Key

Adoption rates differ greatly depending on demographics and also by industry. Age, region, access to technology, type of bill, and market segment all affect a consumer’s attitude toward electronic adoption.

The InfoTrends study found that even though email is becoming more popular, most consumers still prefer printed mail for bill and statement presentment, citing the top benefits as:

  • Easy to review,
  • Provides a physical back-up, and;
  • Serves as a physical reminder to pay.

But consumers also recognize the value of electronic mail being good for the environment, convenient and free. They consider top barriers to “turning off” paper bills to be archiving/backup, security concerns, and that the provider has not made it easy enough.

These consumer opinions are valuable for mailers to understand and consider when determining alternatives to incite EBPP adoption. Emerging technologies, such as Digital Postal MailSM , address consumer discomfort by replicating printed bills and statements, archiving copies in a secure environment, and providing ease of access and use. Or consider mobile solutions– from presentment and payment alerts to actually processing transactions from remote locations.

Interestingly, 41 percent of consumers who do not currently access bills and statement electronically have no plans to do so, and another 30 percent would be more apt to do so if they were offered an ongoing discount.

How Consumers Use Electronic Options

On average, Internet-connected consumers pay 60 percent of their monthly bills electronically. Consumers who do opt for EBPP most often access their electronic bills at the biller’s website (“biller direct”), followed second by an email link that takes consumers directly to their document. A bank’s bill-pay website is the third most common location for consumers to access their electronic bills.

The bank’s bill-pay website is used most often by consumers to aggregate multiple bills (consolidator model), followed by Quicken® and MyCheckFree® (and also reflect the consolidator sites consumers are most familiar with).

Give the People What They Want

Breaking down the barriers to EBPP is really about offering choices and targeting your options to meet the needs of consumers.

I’ve always said the key is to provide EBPP as a delivery option; that some will always want paper and some will opt for electronic, and others still may want a combination of the two. What’s vital is to be able to progress with EBPP as it grows among consumers who are becoming more digitally attuned – and to keep up with advancing technologies and multi-channel delivery options as they become available.

EBPP isn’t just a matter of when, it’s also a matter of how. And as consumers pick and choose and continue their digital journey, mailers have to ask themselves what they are doing to grow electronic adoption.

What are you doing to grow electronic adoption?  Please feel free to comment below.

Next post: What mailers say about the future of EBPP and recommendations for growth.