Here at TIO Networks, we had such a great time at Finnovate 2013 on May 14-15 this year that we took a look back into our archives and reminisce on our past experiences.
Check out this video of TIO's CMO Rob Goehring and Director of Business Development Conal Campbell doing a live demo of the TIO MobilePay app at Finnovate 2012. Great job guys!
Finnovate is a series of conferences showcasing the future of financial and banking technology. It is a two-day showcase of cutting-edge financial and banking technology innovations from leading established companies and hot new startups. Over 1,300 attendees participate each year to watch as companies unveil their latest and greatest financial technology live on stage.
To find out which other events TIO will be at, check out our website!
Or, want to watch more TIO videos? Subscribe to our YouTube Channel!
An estimated 60 million Americans now pay bills online, and that number is rising. There are several reasons to offer online bill payment options to your customers, but here are 3 big ones:
1. Customers with the Ability to Pay Bills Online are Happier
According to a recent survey of 5,000 nationally representative adults sponsored by the National Automated Clearing House Association, the number one reason customers choose to pay bills online (ie utility bills, cable bills, mobile phone bills, etc.) is because it’s easy and increases satisfaction (from Daily Finance article at http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/05/20/online-bill-paying-makes-people-happier-research-shows/)
Not receiving physical paper bills actually lessens anxiety over paying bills. The average American consumer receives 8 - 15 bills every month. Converting to online payments is a sure way to prevent losing a bill or even forgetting to pay, and lessens the number of bills received in the mail each month.
2. Online Payment Services Saves Your Business Time and Labour
Being able to accept online payments frees up precious time and resources from repetitive tasks so your service representatives can better focus on customer service and other priorities.
According to the Federal Reserve, companies can cut their cost by a reported 80 percent when a consumer pays online instead of by check. It can cost a biller as much as $5 to process a paper check whereas electronic payments can be processed for just 7 cents.
Additionally, if you chose an online bill payment company that also provides other forms of payment processing like over-the-counter and/or mobile apps, then it is easier to integrate and cost effective to add these or other new options at a later point if desired.
3. Customers Appreciate Online Payment Options
Good, reputable online payment service providers allow business to accept many different kinds of customers’ credit cards, debit cards and/or electronic funds transfer. Not only is paying online convenient but it also saves time as well as money. Online bill payment can help avoid customer late fees since they can pay from almost anywhere and at any time or even set up automatic withdrawals. And customers also save on postage!
For those that still like having printed bills, customers can simply print off a copy of their receipt once they pay online through your website, as well as receive an email receipt for added confirmation. With one click, you can easily pull up payment history online as well.
These are just some of the benefits online bill payment options can offer. And technology is only moving forward and at a faster pace all the time. Not only will more and more consumers pay their bills online, they will favor and maybe even demand it in the near future.
What’s holding you back from offering your customers online bill pay options?
To find out more on web payment options, check out our website: http://www.tionetworks.com/web.
Here's a shout out to Kiosk Marketplace for publishing a blog of ours on their website!
Check out the top 10 Reasons to Deploy a Bill Payment Kiosk on KioskMarketplace.com.
Click here to read more of our blog posts on payment kiosks.
Or click here to download our bill payment kiosk brochure!
Each year at CS Week, awards are presented to one utility company that has developed an innovative approach to improving customer service in the meter-to-cash Customer Experience Lifecycle by applying mobility to their customer’s needs. This year TIO Networks is proud to announce that we have won Best Mobility Implementation for the mobile app built for El Paso Electric for the EPE MobilePay Mobile Application!
EPE MobilePay allows El Paso Electric's customers to view their account balance and pay their El Paso Electric bill anywhere, anytime with their bank account, Visa or MasterCard debit/credit card and payments are posted within 30 minutes of processing. Customers can store their account information and payment methods for fast future payments as well as view their payment history right within the application and receive email receipts. Steps have been taken to protect the privacy and confidentiality of customer's information with bank-level security, secure databases, secure information transfer, and secure access to the customer's information. Based on over 100 ratings on the App Store and Google Play Store, EPE MobilePay has a very high rating of approximately 4.5 stars out of a potential 5. As well, since launching in November 2012 it has had more than 10,000 downloads and transaction volume continues to grow on an average of 20 per cent week-over-week.
Due to this award, we are also proud to announce that a representative from TIO Networks will be presenting an overview at this year’s CS Week in Tampa Bay, FL April 29th-May 3rd.
Check out this article on our award!
If you want to download the EPE MobilePay App click here!
And to learn more about TIO Networks Mobile apps, visit our website.
Does your company have long line ups at your payment offices? Do lots of your customers still like to pay with cash or check? Bill payment kiosks can help relieve those long line ups so that your counter staff can better focus on other tasks like customer service and upselling.
Here are the top 10 reasons why bill payment kiosks help better the customer experience:
- According to CFSI, cash circulation has increased by 6% in the last 12 months. With more and more people wanting to pay their bills with cash, bill payment kiosks have the ability to quickly easily process these payments at office locations.
- Payment kiosks work like reverse ATMS. Similarly, customers that are looking for fast convenience, this survey found that people prefer to make deposits at ATMs rather than with a teller.
- According to research by Duluth, approximately 40 percent of visitors to mobile phone stores are there to just pay a bill. If customers are redirected to payment kiosks, long line ups can potentially be cut almost in half, therefore delighting customers by not having to wait in such long line-ups.
- Because of the economic turmoil of recent years, more and more customers are waiting until the last possible minute to pay their bills. As credit has gotten tighter, many of those customers are paying in cash. Payment kiosks allow for customers to pay in cash or any other form of payment they’d like, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is obviously advantageous in comparison to only being able to pay during regular office hours only.
- Many payment kiosks also offer real-time processing which allows people to pay on time and avoid late-fees and disruption in services to those “just-in-time” payers.
- Bill payment kiosks allow for less clerical error since it is automated and customers enter their own information.
- Bill payment kiosks can also be more secure as many kiosks are remotely monitored and emptied by cash collection companies so that employees do not even have to touch funds anymore, therefore helping to reduce end-of-the-month discrepancies.
- Reconciliation labor costs are also greatly reduced because there is no need to manually count deposits and reconcile them to accounts paid with kiosks.
- Kiosks located in third party locations like convenience stores can function essentially as multiple satellite offices but without the overhead and additional staffing costs and long line ups experienced by customers.
- Many kiosks can be programmed in multiple different languages options to help better and quickly serve customers whose first language is not English.
This is the third and final post of our 3 part blog series on the US Government decision to issue all Federal funds electronically. As of March 1st this year, more than eight and a half million people in the US still receiving paper checks from the government now recieve their government funds through direct deposit or a prepaid debit card. Last week we talked about the effects of this decision on the US Government and the unbanked and under-banked population. In this post we will examine how recieving electronic transfers may effect senior citizens in America.
One of the main arguments against this shift to all electronic payments of Federal funds is from groups such as senior citizens that are not as technologically progressive as others. Such arguments against the benefits of moving to electronic government payments include the fact that many seniors do not like using mobile phones or home computers which make electronic payments more convenient, and that many seniors find direct deposit confusing when book-keeping and just prefer paper checks.
The Treasury Department will grant exceptions to the rule that everyone must move to electronic payments, in certain circumstances. As outlined on the GoDirect website, waivers are granted to senior citizens born before May 1, 1921, recipients living in remote areas without sufficient banking infrastructure, and recipients for whom electronic payments would impose a hardship due to mental impairment. It is also important to note that although there is a fear of this change, over 90% of people receiving Federal funds have switched to one of the two electronic payment options already. The government is encouraging the remaining 10% to sign up for direct deposit or electronic transfers by implementing the March 1st, 2013 deadline.
Although it has been reported that over half of seniors in the US do not have home computers or use personal email, recent pilot projects in Haiti and Niger have demonstrated that such countries can see leap-frog results by using and therefore benefiting from electronic mobile payments. In these pilot projects, thousands of people in poor remote communities received access for the first time to their funds electronically without access to personal computers. Such funds included moving workfare payments from cash to electronic deposits accessible via their mobile phone. Support for these projects was overwhelming. Reports show that more than three-quarters of the mobile phone recipients perceived electronic payments to be safer than cash and had improved their own financial management because of the project. It is important to note that majority of these participants in Haiti are literate and have never even seen a personal computer or a bank before.
When a large government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Treasury makes a significant decision such as moving all federal funds away from paper checks and towards solely electronic payments, the consequences to those effected is hard to deny. Those specifically affected are the government, the under-banked and senior citizens, which have three very different angles on the situation. Undeniably, there are barriers. However, such a shift in moving to electronic transfers has many benefits to all three groups which include saving money for everyone, improved security for transfers, and the potential for better personal money management.
Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this 3 part blog series.
And click here to read our article on BankTech.com on how mobile payments are key to reaching the under-banked in America.
As of March 1st this year, more than eight and a half million people in the US still receiving paper checks from the government now recieve their government funds through direct deposit or a prepaid debit card. Three groups in particular will feel the change by this decision to move to electronic payments: the government, the under-banked, and seniors. Yesterday, in the first post of our 3 part blog series, we talked about the effects of this decision on the US Government. Today we will examine how recieving electronic transfers may effect the unbanked and under-banked population.
There is an estimated 10 million Americans that do not have any access to bank accounts. Additionally, there is an estimated 25 million Americans that are “under-banked”. The under-banked population is referred to as people who may have bank accounts but ultimately use other alternative ways of getting cash. Reasons for not using traditional banks include either because it is quicker to use an alternative or because their bank accounts come with higher costs due to their circumstances (i.e. overdraft fees, must keep a minimum balance, etc) or the bank will not service them.
With the US government proposing an alternative to direct deposit of federal funds by offering deposits onto the Direct Express Card, the un- and under-banked population will see many different kinds of benefits from having access to electronic payments as well. Direct deposit is fast and convenient for everyone receiving government funds, not just the under-banked. It allows for easy access to their funds without having to wait for the mail to arrive and then waiting for the check to be deposited and processed. It also lessens the need to go to expensive check cashing stores in order to convert the check into cash. It is also more secure than carrying around large amounts of cash on hand. The Direct Express Card offers no sign up fees, no monthly fees or no overdraft fees. The card can be used to pay for everyday purchases, or can be used to withdraw cash if needed from an ATM. There are fees associated with multiple withdraws, but one free withdraw per month is permitted at this time.
The U.S. Department of Treasury’s decision to move to electronic transfer of funds may also cause a shift in which this particular group not only views banking but utilize services to improve their own financial management. Basically, being required to sign up for direct deposit into a bank account or for the Direct Express card that acts like a debit card can help bridge and act as a stepping stone between transacting in all cash and using formal banking methods. In addition, some prepaid cards do have the ability to help improve credit scores. There is much confusion on this, so check out this msn.com article which outlines how and which prepaid cards can help improve credit scores.
To read part 1 of this 3 part blog series, click here.
The U.S. Department of Treasury began phasing out printed Social Security checks and other US Federal benefit checks a year ago on May 1, 2011. Anyone applying for Social Security checks and other benefits on and after that date are already receiving their payments electronically. Those who began receiving Social Security checks before May of 2011 had until March 1, 2013, to sign up for electronic payments. Those who did not sign up to have these checks directly-deposited are now receiving their benefits through the Direct Express Card program. The Direct Express Card allows recipients to receive their checks through direct deposit onto a pre-paid debit card, which is an option for those who do not have access to bank accounts.
With more than eight and a half million people in the US still receiving paper checks from the government, it is difficult to deny that the US government’s decision will have a significant effect on many Americans very soon. Three groups in particular will feel the change by this decision to move to electronic payments: the government, the under-banked, and seniors. Now that this program is in full effect, it will be interesting to see the feedback from these three particular groups. In this 3 part blog, we will examine the outcomes and possible changes experienced by these 3 groups due to the US Government’s decision to move to electronic payments.
Part 1: US Government and Electronic Payments
Clearly, the US Department of Treasury and other Government agencies see the benefits of moving to electronic payments. It has been “estimated over the next 10 years that there’ll be a billion dollars in savings and taxpayers will no longer incur that $120 million a year price tag which is associated with printing and mailing those paper checks” (http://www.sba.gov/content/federal-benefit-payments-are-going-all-electronic). To break it down, it costs up to approximately one dollar to print and process each check, where as it only costs a fraction of the price (approximately $0.10) to process electronic payments.
As well, electronic payments have the potential to help the government better monitor and prevent fraud. In 2012, more than 540,000 Social Security and supplemental security income checks were reported lost or stolen and had to be re-issued. Just the cost of the re-print, not including the envelope or postage, is estimated at more than half a million dollars. In 2010, it was also estimated that over $93 million in checks issued by the US Treasury were fraudulently endorsed (http://www.sba.gov/content/federal-benefit-payments-are-going-all-electronic). Not only will the government save money on the cost of reprinting these lost or stolen checks, they will also be saving money by helping to prevent these instances of fraud in the first place.
Be sure to check back next week to read part 2 of this 3 part blog series!
Each year on April 22nd, Earth Day is held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It is now celebrated in more than 192 countries every year! In celebration of Earth Day this year we wanted to talk about how mobile payments are not only an economic alternative but also an easy, green friendly alternative to traditional banking methods.
Paper bills represent a significant percentage of paper waste. Though we often take it for granted, the lifecycle cost of paper - including production, transportation, and disposal - has a tremendous impact on a business’ bottom line, and the environment. Going “green” by encouraging customers to switch to electronic bills and electronic/mobile payments saves money as well as having a positive impact on the environment and how customers view your company.
As of March 1, 2013 the U.S. Department of Treasury is now only issuing Social Security checks and other US Federal benefit checks via electronic transfer. Americans are now receiving their benefits through direct deposit into their bank accounts or through the Direct Express Card program where recipients to receive their checks onto a pre-paid debit card if they do not have a bank account. Clearly, the US Department of Treasury and other Government agencies see the benefits of moving to electronic payments as it has been “estimated over the next 10 years that there’ll be a billion dollars in savings and taxpayers will no longer incur that $120 million a year price tag which is associated with printing and mailing those paper checks”. To break it down, it costs up to approximately one dollar to print and process each check, where as it only costs a fraction of the price (approximately $0.10) to process electronic payments. Bottom line, electronic and mobile payments saves money.
But just as importantly, the potential to save hundreds of pounds of paper and trees by switching to electronic deposits is staggering. According to Pay it Green, in just one year, by switching from paper to electronic or mobile billing, statements, and payments, the average American household would…
- Save 6 pounds of paper
- Save 23 pounds of wood
- Prevent the production of 29 pounds of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of:
- The emissions avoided by not driving 30 miles
- The emissions avoided by not consuming 2 gallons of gasoline
- Planting 0.4 tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years
That’s what just a single household could accomplish; imagine if just 20% of American households switched from paper to electronic bills, statements and payments each year! If 20% of US households switched to electronic bills and payments, we would…
- Save nearly 150 million pounds of paper
- Save nearly 543 million pounds of wood
- Reduce wastewater by 1.6 billion gallons
- Save 15 million gallons of fuel
According to a 2011 study by MIT, sustainability is now a permanent part of 70% of corporate agendas. Most companies now also consider green practices to be vital to remaining competitive and many affirm that these practices are contributing to profits.
Community involvement is an important cornerstone for many companies, and green practices enhance public image, community relations and good will. According to a report by D S Simon Productions, "media initiatives with a corporate social responsibility focus generates 35-50% more positive media coverage on television, radio, web and social media than comparable programs without the CSR hook".
According to the Fiserv Billing Household Survey, payments initiated via a mobile device such as through an app were made by more than 8 million U.S. households in 2012. Growth was most notable among smart phone owners; mobile bill payments among this group jumped 41 percent during the previous year. In addition, 1 in 5 tablet owners paid a bill through a company or financial institution site using their tablet devices. And when respondents were asked what mobile billing and payment capability they are most interested in, nearly 1 in 3 respondents indicated they are very interested in viewing and paying bills from their smart phones.
Overall, there are many benefits to switching to mobile payments. Switching to electronic and mobile payments not only helps saves money off the bottom line and helps the environment, but it also increases customer satisfaction. Why not help do your part on this year’s Earth Day and try mobile payments for yourself?
To read more on the benefits of mobile payments, check our blog.
What do Justin Bieber, Russell Simmons, Kim Kardashian, Suze Orman, and Magic Johnson have in common? Other than the obvious fact that they are all famous; they are all celebrities that have launched pre-paid cards (except the Kardashian’s card is now no longer available due to public backlash which we will talk about a little later). It is hard to say if these celebrities know exactly what the benefits are of these prepaid cards, especially to the unbanked or under-banked; or if it’s just another PR endorsement scheme to them.
The reality is, many Americans rely on these prepaid cards because it is their only alternative to traditional banking methods. Over 35 million Americans are presently unbanked or under-banked and have to resort to cash and high-cost alternatives, such as check-cashing services. Many have found that using prepaid cards helps to lower what they pay in banking fees and what they get charged to use these payday loans or check cashing services. A recent federal survey as quoted in the Wall Street Insights and Indictments blog, the usage of prepaid cards by unbanked adults increased from 12% to 18%. And perhaps more telling of the unfortunate times is that of those who dropped out of the traditional “previously banked” category, their use of prepaid cards rose from 19% to 27%.
So what is a prepaid card? Sometimes they are referred to as “prepaid debit cards” because they are accepted like debit cards, or also sometimes referred to as “prepaid credit cards” only because they are backed by a company like Visa or MasterCard. Basically, prepaid card is a means of payment instead of cash where credit and debit cards are accepted but is not backed by a financial institution. It is generally more similar to a gift card in the sense that it can only be used if pre-loaded with a certain amount of money. Prepaid cards cannot be over drawn like a checking account and there are no late payment fees or interest like with credit cards.
Think of it this way:
Credit Cards = pay later
Debit Cards = pay now
Prepaid cards = pay before
There are some disadvantages to prepaid cards, however. For example, it varies from company to company but some prepaid cards have high fees not typically seen with traditional credit or debit cards. Such fees include high monthly fees, inactivity fees, balance inquiry fees, and high loading and withdrawal fees.
According to Wise Bread, the short lived prepaid Kardashian Kard had horribly high fees. It cost almost $100 just to use the card for the first year which received such harsh negative feedback from the public and the media that they took it off the market within a month of the card’s launch date. Although Suze Orman’s The Approved Card has some of the lowest monthly fees, she is also receiving disapproval because critics say that the fees are still predatory because they are unavoidable. Suze Orman and Magic Johnson both have said that they endorse these types of prepaid cards as a means for the financially underserved a hand up to financial inclusion.
Ultimately, some of the benefits to these cards when the right card is chosen and used properly include:
1. More Access and Inclusion for Unbanked and Under-banked
Prepaid cards can offer unbanked and under-banked consumers access to online shopping, hotel booking, car rentals and bill payments that were never accessible before without traditional banking functionalities.
It is interesting to note that a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs has found that a larger proportion of under-banked consumers in the U.S. own smartphones and use them for mobile financial services in comparison to the total U.S. population.
This is largely due to the fact that many Americans of low-socioeconomic status do not own home computers, and therefore use their mobile phones to access the internet (and therefore, services like bill payment) instead. Mobile payments have the ability to further include those millions of Americans with limited access or no access to bank accounts as well as computers.
2. Faster and Safer Payments
Many governments around the world including recently the US, are increasingly adopting prepaid cards as a preferred mechanism for making benefits payments to consumers because it can be cheaper, faster, and more secure to transfer funds to cards than it is to mail checks or provide cash to all recipients. In turn, recipients feel safer because they no longer are forced to walk around with large sums of cash on them in order to pay for items in their everyday lives. Loading prepaid debit cards into a mobile wallet also adds another additional safety feature in that people do not have to even worry about carrying their prepaid card around as funds can be moved and transferred around with a touch on their mobile devise.
For those that are not able to keep a minimum balance and do not want to deal with late fees or overdraft fees associated with banks, prepaid cards coupled with mobile payment options shows great promise in increasing the safe and fair inclusion of the unbanked and under-banked population in America.
To find out more on mobile payment apps, check out our Tio MobilePay website.