The FINANCIAL — Ten years ago, according to financial services technology provider Fiserv, 61% of US online households paid their bills by check, a proportion that had tumbled to 25% by January 2010 as online bill pay at financial institution sites (24%) and biller sites (21%) gained larger slices of the pie.
Fiserv reports that two in five US internet users take advantage of online banking and bill pay, while the same number again bank online without paying their bills. Banking online has become a requirement for many consumers, more than half of whom told Intuit Financial Services in September 2010 that they would switch banks to get more online offerings.
Their ultimate goal was convenience, with large majorities excited about the ability to view all their financial information and deal with all their bills in one place. Tools that help track spending were also popular with about two-thirds of users. Intuit found that more than a third of respondents were now using such tools as the primary way to manage their money, rather than a spreadsheet or checkbook register.
Internet users polled in January 2010 by Fiserv also cited convenience factors at the top of their list of reasons to use online bill payment services.
The speed, control and ease of paying bills online has helped spread the activity to more consumers across demographics. In 2002, according to Fiserv, just 13% of online bill payment users were over the age of 55. This year, that proportion has nearly doubled to 24%.
The next step for financial services firms will be popularizing all these convenience factors in the mobile space. Just 18% of US adults used a mobile device for banking in September, according to Intuit. The biggest barriers were lack of a smartphone (30%), a preference for online banking (20%) and security concerns (17%).