There is no denying that mobile is the way of the future. With over 58 percent of the U.S. population currently owning a smartphone, that number will only continue to rise as options become more readily available. For many, a smartphone or tablet has replaced the home computer or laptop, with many people relying on their smartphones as their primary way of connecting to the Internet. As a result, we continue to see more and more well designed apps that perform functions that may have previously been executed in an alternate way, such as in person, mail, over the phone, or on a web-browser. With a multitude of applications that literally perform a desired function or a tedious task at the tap of your fingertip, mobile is said to be the way of the future because of the conveniences that it offers.
Threat or Opportunity?
Mobile bill pay options enable your customers to make payments anywhere, anytime. The convenience factor of being able to easily make payments last minute, without first obtaining a money order, getting a stamp and envelop or travelling to a payment office to make a payment in person is quite appealing since the alternatives can be rather time consuming and expensive for customers. A biller that offers options, has a happier, more loyal consumer base and improved rate of collections as a result of fewer late payments made. But, as consumer comfort levels and adoption rates of mobile payments continue to increase it raises the question: will mobile options make other payment options, such as kiosks, obsolete?
Broadly speaking, mobile will undoubtedly pose a threat to the kiosk industry in some way, shape or form. However it doesn’t diminish the value of self-serve kiosks in all industries, as it highly depends on the vertical markets in which the kiosk and mobile technologies are being deployed. Instead of replacing kiosks with technologies such as mobile, certain industries can benefit by looking at how they work together to compliment one another.
Competing or Complimentary?
We have witnessed a symbiotic kiosk/mobile relationship successfully implemented with self-serve airline check-in kiosks and mobile check-in apps. Digital boarding passes are increasingly gaining popularity, but in a way where smartphones and kiosks work together to support this. There is room for both based on the relevant use case. The key feature offered is ease-of–use and efficiency. While it is more convenient for passengers to download a digital boarding pass onto their mobile device at their leisure, smartphones can’t do all the required check-in functions such as weigh and print baggage tags. But, by offering both options it spreads out the crowds of people checking-in, reducing bottlenecks and the required manpower to guide people through the check-in process. Overall, it just makes it a more efficient process. The airline industry is only one example of how mobile and kiosks can be complimentary to one another, working together to improve customer experience.
Similarly, bill payment kiosks can be complimented by mobile and vice versa. Mobile bill pay applications are convenient, efficient and easy to use, in that you can make a payment from anywhere that your smartphone has service, but you generally require a credit, debit or prepaid card to complete the payment. Mobile offers the convenience of payments at your fingertip, but no smartphone can accept a cash payment or print a physical receipt. However, the mobile app can map the quickest route to the nearest cash accepting bill pay kiosk, offer directions and pull up the customer account for quick easy and documented cash payments. Mobile apps have the ability to capture more information from your customers, and open up communication channels. For instance, a mobile payment app can send bill reminder push notifications, index past payment methods and use GPS to locate the nearest in person or kiosk bill pay option.
Cash transactions have been on a steady decline, but a large portion of the population still relies solely on cash or they use cash to purchase prepaid cards to make online or mobile payments. This segment of the population largely relies on bill pay kiosks, values making last minute payments and is among the growing underbanked population within the U.S. Many pay by cash because they have limited options due to a non-active bank account and/or no credit, or they simply just prefer it. However, according to the Federal Reserves 3rd annual survey on Consumer Use of Mobile Financial Services, ethnic minority smartphone owners that are underbanked are disproportionately more likely to adopt mobile payments since it offers a form of financial inclusion.
By offering integrated bill payment solutions, it streamlines the process, and improves customer satisfaction. Companies should think of mobility as another vehicle to deliver their brand, pay bills, drive traffic to cash accepting payment kiosks and improve customer satisfaction by offering customers the options that they need, when they need them.