©2008 The Ascent Group, Inc.
Billing & Payment Options
Driving Customers Paperless
Billing and payment options for customers have grown considerably in the last 5 to 10 years.
Bill presentment has expanded from paper bills delivered through the U.S. Postal Service to
email, mobile phones, and the Internet with the option to receive bills on company websites, at
banks, or special payment portals. Payments too have expanded from the days of walking in-
person and paying by check or cash or mailing your paper check through the U.S. Postal
Service. Now customers can pay by cash, check, credit/debit card, electronic fund transfer,
ACH transfer using ATMs, IVRs, mobile phones, and the Internet. In a few short years
customers have been offered and have come to expect many billing and payment options.
Consumers now understand the benefits of online bill payment. A recent study conducted by
the Marketing Workshop and Harris Interactive found that four out of five households with
Internet access now use online banking services, primarily to access balance and account history
and transfer money between accounts. Forrester Research predicts that the total number of
U.S. online bill payment households will increase from 48 million to 63 million over the next 5
The rush to accept online payments has been a major driver of Electronic Bill Presentment &
Payment (EBPP) programs for many. The focus appears to be shifting. Electronic bill
presentment is now being pushed more urgently, in the hopes of reducing printing and mailing
costs, and saving a few trees.
Companies are also trying to tap into the mobile banking services market which is expected to
increase 10-fold by 2011. While the greatest growth in mobile transactions is predicted in
China and the Far East, Western Europe and India are also expected to grow quickly. While
acceptance has been lagging in the U.S., a growing range of new mobile banking products and
services are being introduced, such as bill payment and presentment, funds transfer, and
account management, which should help entice customers into the fold.
EBPP Quest—Slow Going
The Ascent Group recently conducted research into billing and payment practices. We asked
companies about billing services and payment plans, including Electronic Bill Presentment and
Payment (EBPP). While we confirmed that companies from many industries are actively
implementing EBPP options for customers, we also confirmed that customer adoption (based
on volume) for paperless billing and electronic payment is still quite low—averaging 5.8 percent
for ebill (of total bills issued) and 6.9 percent for epay (of total payments received) for all
industries. While electronic payment transaction volume is still low, the number of customers
paying through the Internet has doubled since our initial study in 2004 (from 6 percent to 13