Introduction Chapter 1 The Case for Bill Pay Chapter 2 How it Works: The Consumer and the Biller Chapter 3 The C-store as Ideal Venue Chapter 4 ROI: The Bottom Line Conclusion APPENDIX I
Todays culture is changing the way companies conduct their business. Traditional business practices, particularly in the financial realm, and the concept of brand loyalty have fallen by the wayside as economically and ethnically diverse customers now have more options and an ever-stronger voice in shaping the products offered to them. In many ways, companies are responding to the changing demographics, and the concept of customer service is taking on a broader meaning. To gain a competitive edge, executives are updating their marketing plans, offering flexible product lines to meet the needs of families and single individuals, and incorporating self-service options to quell the cries for convenience and other amenities. Despite these changes and the Herculean efforts to meet the needs of todays diverse consumer base, one aspect of business has remained static for a majority of companies: how they handle consumer billing and accounts receivables. In this area, the traditional approach still holds fast. The company sends a bill in an envelope and waits for payment to be remitted in the same fashion. In some cases, companies offer the option of making a payment online, but this option, as does the other, assumes that the consumer has a credit card or bank account. What about those who have neither a MasterCard or a checking plan? For a growing number of people in the United States, paying bills is not simply a matter of writing a check and licking a stamp. The unbanked market sometimes euphemistically referred to as the cash-preferred is made up largely of minorities and low-income families who either eschew traditional financial institutions for a variety of reasons, from a lack of trust in the institutions to a lack of sufficient funds to maintain an account, or are denied access to them owing to poor or insufficient credit history. In the United States today, as many as 22 million households are unbanked, said a report for the Center for Financial Services Innovation. The Retail Financial Services Initiative (RFSI), a study organized by the National Community Investment Fund, places the combined market of unbanked and sub-prime borrowers between 30 million and 40 million. Those numbers, fueled by the growing Latino population in the United States, are expected to increase. Cash-preferred customers have traditionally had to rely on outlets such as check-cashing stores, payday lenders and pawn shops to serve their cash-based needs. While these types of stores provide a needed service, they can be intimidating for some consumers and usuriously expensive. In addition, as with other venues for in-person payments, there is little privacy; customers must give sensitive information to a clerk in an open lobby, where others can overhear. The cash-preferred market, then, represents an untapped market segment for many companies. But to capitalize on it, they must seek options that will accommodate these consumers preference for dealing in cash. Checking out an alternative to checks One option is a bill pay kiosk that gives customers one-stop access to a number of accounts from different service providers, such as cable, utilities and mobile phones, and make payments in a variety of modalities. Bill pay kiosks have emerged in recent years as a vehicle for service providers to reach the cash-preferred market. To serve customers across a broad market base, service providers must provide a source for those customers who wish to pay their bills in person. But typically in-person payments are burdensome for companies both in terms of financial costs and labor. Bill pay kiosks provide a new way to collect payments and offer the benefit of serving both the cash-preferred and banked consumer markets. These standalone devices, which are located in biller places of business and convenience stores, are easily accessible to all consumer segments not just the cash-preferred. But these kiosks do far more than simply serve as a vault for payments. They enhance a companys customer service efforts, assist in reconciliation duties, serve as a remote office location and alleviate stress on in-house personnel collecting payments. To help you better understand the benefits that a bill pay kiosk can offer, weve produced this guide. Among other topics, youll find information about ROI, developing a good kiosk management plan, selecting a location and decreasing reconciliation costs. Self-Service World would like to thank TIO Networks Corp., formerly Info Touch Technologies, based in Burnaby, British Columbia, for sponsoring this guide. The companys generosity brings this guide to you at no cost.