Category Archives: Alacriti Blog

5 Benefits of Card Account Updater for Bill Payments

Payment card information changes more often than you might think. Individual cards are frequently lost or stolen, expiration dates come due regularly, and mass reissuance can be prompted by card upgrades and/or security breaches.

More and more customers save their payment methods electronically to take advantage of automatic payment options. While this provides the benefit of “setting it and forgetting it”, it also means that updating saved card information might not be top-of-mind when that data changes. Billers that rely on direct intervention from customers to update stale funding sources can be left chasing late bill payments and missing out on timely revenue.

A credit card updater solution helps minimize the hassle of missed bill payments due to outdated card information. Billers that subscribe to this service receive fresh card data seamlessly, preserving incoming cash flow and reducing the burden on internal resources tasked with recovering missed bill payments. 

Credit card updater, part of our Orbipay EBPP (Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment) solution, automatically submits expiring cards to merchant processors to automatically obtain new payment card information. Here are five benefits of credit card updater for bill payments.

  1. Maintain accurate customer card account information.

Bill payments are only as good as their funding sources. Credit card updater refreshes saved payment card information automatically, meaning your organization always has the most up-to-date data.

  1. Reduce interrupted bill payments.

Credit card updater’s automated process helps reduce the number of interrupted bill payments, supporting continuous incoming revenue that your organization relies on.

  1. Deliver a better customer experience.

Credit card updater eliminates the need for customers or members to manually update their card information when it changes. It also helps them avoid late or missed payments, creating a more positive experience throughout their customer journey.

  1. Prevent service disruptions.

Late or missed payments due to outdated card information can have serious consequences for bill payers. Credit card updater can help reduce service disruptions and prevent account delinquencies by supplying the most accurate card data to your organization.

  1. Improve operational efficiency.

When a bill payment fails, contacting customers or members to update their funding source information can be a significant burden for your internal teams. Credit card updater automates this process, giving your staff more time to focus on other organizational initiatives.

The Bottom Line: Credit card updater automates the burdensome process of refreshing stale saved payment card information. The solution is often offered as part of an overall EBPP, usually alongside automated card expiration notifications and card expiration reporting, meaning that adopting credit card updater can be as simple as talking to your EBPP provider.

Updated from a blog post originally published September 25, 2019.

Nacha rules require originators of WEB debit entries to use a “commercially reasonable fraudulent transaction detection system”, making it necessary for a real-time bank account validation process. Read more in Nacha Rule Extensions


Alacriti’s Orbipay EBPP is a customizable electronic billing and payments solution for businesses and financial institutions of all sizes. Credit Card Updater is just one of several Orbipay EBPP features available to help you accelerate receivables. For more information, please contact us at info@alacriti.com.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to EBPP (Infographic)

Today’s consumers are more connected and informed than ever before. They expect products and services to match the mobility and flexibility of their lifestyles. So why should their bill payments be any different?

Truth is, consumers are always looking for the newest ways to manage and pay their bills—and in the post-COVID-19 world, new ways to conduct business with as little contact as possible have jumped in popularity. Providing solutions that are forward-thinking and customer-focused can help businesses establish a competitive advantage. An electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution can help your business get started on this journey.

What is EBPP?

An EBPP solution integrates seamlessly into existing systems to present bills electronically and accept payments from customers. EBPP helps bridge the gap between digital payments (web, Pay by Text, intelligent personal assistants, etc.) and payments generated from more traditional channels (agent, IVR, kiosk, etc.). In addition, an EBPP solution supports multiple payment methods (ACH, credit cards, debit cards, cash, etc.) while giving customers the ability to choose from a variety of payment options (recurring payments, payment plans, AutoPay, etc.).

What are the benefits of EBPP for businesses?

Bill payments have a direct impact on a business’s bottom line, making it imperative to deliver a user experience that works for all customers. The personalization that an EBPP solution can provide makes it easier for businesses to offer a user-centric experience no matter how customers choose to pay.

Here are some of the benefits of EBPP for businesses:

  • Deliver Bills Instantly – Send bills as soon as they’re ready and eliminate the time lag associated with mail delivery. Electronic bills can also help encourage customers to accelerate the timing of their payments.
  • Reduce Costs – Printing and mailing paper bills costs both time and money. Moving customers to e-bills can reduce the expenditures needed for printing, fulfilling, and sending hard copy statements as well as fulfill consumer demands for contactless payments. In addition, an EBPP solution can give customers the tools to self-service online. This can free up time for call center staff to focus on more strategic priorities.
  • Go Green – Today’s consumers are more environmentally aware and welcome opportunities to be eco-friendly. E-bills allow your business to provide choice, meet customer needs, reduce environmental impact, and control costs.
  • Strengthen Customer Relationships – A happy customer is a loyal customer. Providing an intuitive and easy-to-use bill payment experience can help strengthen your business’s relationships with your customers.

 

Read the complete list of benefits in our infographic.

Download PDF

The Bottom Line: Billing and payments are a critical component of the customer journey. Providing a wide range of electronic payment options to your customers can help your business meet their needs while strengthening customer relationships, reducing costs, and streamlining operations. 

*Updated from a blog originally published September 17, 2019.

Learn more about the basics of EBPP.

Paper or Electronic Billing: What’s Your Preference?

Do you prefer paper bills, electronic statements, or both?

On one hand, there’s a segment of the population that lives exclusively in the digital world. Technology is a trusted companion for activities like streaming media, messaging with friends and family, buying goods and services, and receiving and paying bills. This segment is comfortable using mobile devices and computers to receive electronic statements and pay bills online—and has increased exponentially in the aftermath of the global pandemic as demand for touchless-everything grew.

On the other hand, a portion of the population still prefers traditional paper bills and may pay those bills with cash or checks. So-called “double dipping” occurs when customers make electronic payments via their bank accounts or biller websites, but also receive paper statements. Paper bills might be preferred because they provide benefits for recipients including physical reminders, easy archiving, and proof of address.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, why don’t businesses eliminate paper bills once and for all? It’s reasonable to think that most organizations would stand to benefit both financially and operationally if their customers went to 100% electronic bill presentment and payments (EBPP). This is especially true for customers that are already making payments online but still receiving paper statements. Eliminating the choice of paper bills could save companies time and money, while also creating a positive impact on the environment.

The reality is that simply offering an electronic option isn’t enough to encourage full participation. Some companies set up their enrollment process so that customers opting-in to electronic payments automatically opt-in to e-bills as well. Others provide their customers the option to disable paper bills, but don’t make electronic statements mandatory. If customers choose to pay their bills online, it might make sense to require electronic billing in tandem. Businesses must make a concerted effort to shift customers toward EBPP by offering the right incentives.

For most businesses, there’s no greater priority than customer satisfaction. And, like it or not, paper bills remain a critical component of a personalized billing and payments experience. Businesses might find it increasingly difficult to balance consumer demands for fully digitized experiences with long-standing paper habits. Looking to the future, these organizations must devise creative strategies to encourage full participation in electronic billing and payments.

Updated from a blog originally published September 3, 2019.

Read more about paperless billing in Paperless Billing: Why Make the Switch?


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

Payments and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Once an abstract concept, the Internet of Things (IoT) became a tangible global sensation. Smart appliances, connected automobiles, and wearable technology are just a few examples of the IoT that have changed the way consumers interact with the world around them. And IoT just keeps growing. IDC forecasts that there will be 55.7 billion connected devices by the year 2025.

IoT also provides ample opportunity for players in the payments space to capitalize on this phenomenon. The realization of a concept like IoT, which essentially enables machines to preemptively fulfill needs based on data, suggests to consumers that their payment experiences should be just as efficient. Consumers now expect payments to integrate seamlessly into their everyday lives through their IoT devices.

Examples of IoT

Smart Speakers

Amazon Echo and Google Home are among the most recognizable smart speakers. Driven by AI-powered intelligent personal assistants, these devices can provide information about everything from traffic conditions to recipes. They can also be used to help consumers manage their finances, from looking up account balances to making bill payments with simple voice commands.

Retail

IoT also enables new and enriched shopping experience for consumers while simultaneously presenting lucrative revenue opportunities for merchants. Some retailers are investing in beacon technology to send push notifications, promotions, and coupons to shoppers as they enter their stores. These types of enriched shopping experiences can help traditional retailers bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping, possibly leading to increased sales.

Auto

Connected cars are becoming more common. Business Insider estimated that 75% of the estimated 92 million cars shipped globally in 2020 would be built with internet-connection hardware. Internet connectivity combined with apps like Spotify and Netflix make in-vehicle entertainment a fully integrated and seamless experience. Auto insurance companies are also leveraging IoT to track the driving habits of their customers and offer discounts for safe driving.

Home

Smart home devices are streamlining our daily lives like never before. From smart refrigerators that can reorder groceries to video doorbells that help keep our homes secure, almost every part of our home can be streamlined by IoT. And smart speakers can help join these disparate smart devices together into one central command center, making it easier to manage them all.

What does IoT mean for payments?

The explosive connectivity that IoT delivers is poised to increase payment transaction volumes, making a robust payments infrastructure a fundamental component to sustained success. Financial institutions and other payment service providers can help businesses prepare for monetization opportunities by offering comprehensive services that can integrate into the fast purchasing environment made possible by IoT.

It’s also important to note that the rapid expansion of IoT can expand payments risk and fraud as well. Banks and other stakeholders will have to keep the possibility of increased fraud in mind and develop additional security measures to verify and protect consumer identities.

The Bottom Line: As consumers continue to leverage IoT for increased connectivity and convenience, there is an opportunity for financial institutions and payment service providers to gain a competitive advantage. This advantage can be realized with a balance of innovation, security, and user-focused design.

Updated from a blog originally published September 9, 2019.

AI-powered personal assistants can make payments. Read 4 Ways Chatbots are Revolutionizing Electronic Bill Payments


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

Educating Consumers on Real-Time Payments Fraud Risks

The Clearing House (TCH) launched the RTP® network in 2017—the first new payment rail in the U.S. in over forty years. Fraud is always a top-of-mind business concern with payments. However, the new payment rails themselves, such as RTP, are the most secure the country has seen. This will also be true for the upcoming real-time payments network from the Federal Reserve, the FedNowSM Service when it goes live in 2023. Since real-time payments are based on a credit push model, funds just can’t be pulled out of an account from an external party. The sender has to initiate the payment directly from their account, a design element of the networks meant to thwart various fraud schemes that benefit from a debit model. There are a ton of fraud prevention tools available and practices that are already in place. However, consumer education remains the most important prevention tool available. Here’s what financial institutions should educate their account holders on to fight fraud.

Funds are irrevocable

With many legacy payment types, a consumer can recall a payment made in error before it’s cleared and settled, and in some cases up to 70 days after it has. Real-time payments happen in, well, real-time. So the payer cannot cancel the transaction and the funds are available for the payee to use or withdraw immediately. As with other payment types, but even more imperative in this case, consumers should therefore only initiate real-time payments to trusted recipients and triple-check that they have the correct information. 

Financial institutions don’t ask for login information out of the blue

It can’t be emphasized enough. Consumers need to know that their financial institution will never ask for online banking credentials through an outside channel, whether it be by phone, email, or text. Both consumers and businesses should know the signs of fraud, such as spelling errors, suspicious sender email addresses, and ‘urgent’ requests. Keep yourself aware of account activity at all times by taking advantage of account alerts. And, of course, login information should be secure and hard to guess. 

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

CEO fraud and authentication fraud are top threats to real-time payments. Layered fraud approaches including matrix-based approvals, biometric-based credentials, and the use of tokens for releasing payments can help, and so can employee vigilance. Employees should automatically verify the source of a request for payment from suppliers and billers. Using templates for payments or approval matrix will keep fraud to a minimum.

Read Best Practices to Prevent Payment Fraud for more on fraud. 


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com.

2021 Year in Review: Real-Time Payments, Crypto and BNPL

*Originally published on CUInsight.com

The billing and payments landscape continues to undergo rapid change. Over the course of 2021, our blog strived to keep clients updated on the latest industry developments and offer our views on future trends. As we close another unconventional year, we’ll revisit a couple of developments we touched on earlier in the year, including real-time payments (RTP) and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), as well as provide a look ahead at cryptocurrency and how its increased adoption may impact the billing ecosystem.

  1. Real-Time Payments and Request for Payment Availability Continues to Expand

We’ve all been following developments in payments modernization—headlined by increased adoption of real-time payments (RTP) by both financial institutions and businesses—as well as it’s spin-off Request for Payment (RfP).

While RTP availability has steadily increased since its rollout by The Clearing House (TCH) in 2017, the global pandemic has heightened calls for payments modernization headlined by RTP and faster payments. The burgeoning gig economy has also presented a favorable environment in which to grow RTP.

According to a recent report, “the RTP network’s real-time payment capabilities are accessible to financial institutions that hold 73 percent of U.S. demand deposit accounts (DDAs), and the network currently reaches 60 percent of U.S. DDAs.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is still forging ahead with its own real-time payments service, FedNowSM, set to launch in 2023.

As a natural complement to RTP, TCH’s Request for Payment (RfP), is also gaining in popularity as businesses realize the benefits of pushing requests for payments to be delivered in real-time, including higher straight-through processing levels, guaranteed “good funds,” simpler reconciliation, faster time to payment and reduced operational costs.

  1. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) Continues to Gather Steam

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is a fairly recent and increasingly popular payment option among consumers exhibiting pent-up purchase demand. BNPL gives purchasers the option to pay for their purchases in multiple, interest-free installments. Essentially, it’s a new and improved instant credit option. 

Instant store credit options of the past also often offered interest-free purchasing for a set period of time, but missed or late payments or failing to pay off a purchase within the interest-free period triggered sometimes astronomical interest rates (and sometimes back-interest). BNPL offers all the rewards of interest-free purchasing without the cloud of high-interest and penalties hanging over consumers’ heads. 

The benefits to consumers are obvious, but what about the benefits to businesses offering BNPL? Mainly, a BNPL option can be the deciding factor in a consumer’s ultimate decision to buy and can take the sting out of sticker shock associated with higher-priced items. But regardless of the size of the purchase, BNPL can offer businesses a competitive edge to gain more market share in these uncertain and uncharted economic times. And financial institutions can leverage BNPL as a competitive differentiator by partnering with BNPL vendors to offer BNPL payment options of choice to consumers linked directly to their DDA accounts. 

  1. Crypto Achieves Sharp Adoption Curve

We discussed cryptocurrency briefly mid-year, but it’s worth taking another look as its adoption is steadily increasing. With the global pandemic exacerbating an already rapidly accelerating drive toward digital-everything, increasing interest by average Americans into crypto is the next natural extension. 

One recent study found that “48 percent of investors in the country bought such alternative currencies in the first half of 2021. Younger consumers especially are growing increasingly intrigued by digital currencies. The report found 37 percent of investors 18 to 44 years old who have not yet bought digital currencies are either “very” or “somewhat” interested in doing so.”

What might this mean for merchants and billers? It means that as interest and investment in crypto increases, merchants and other billers will need to consider accepting crypto forms of payment—and payment processors will need to consider building infrastructure to support such payments—in order to gain or retain a competitive edge. 

Crypto is in its infancy as an emerging payment type and its volatility calls into question its mass appeal, but merchants, financial institutions and other businesses should watch trends around crypto closely to be future-ready.

Now that you’ve reviewed trends from 2021, watch the webinar, Top Payment Trends to Watch in 2022


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com.

Looking Back at AFP 2021

After what felt like an eternity without business travel, the last few months have seen the beginning of a return to normalcy (or at least a normal with social distancing and better hygiene practices than we saw in the pre-pandemic world). Normal for us is setting up booths and seeing our customers and prospective customers out in the market at conferences, shows, and seminars discussing and sharing insights on the payments market. To steal a cliché, we didn’t know what we had until we lost it, and getting back to a face-to-face in person reality was for me at least, the biggest piece of the normalcy puzzle we have been missing. Getting to see friendly faces in Washington D.C. at the first AFP conference in this new era, was a welcome return to convention. The show itself didn’t disappoint from the acceleration of real-time payments, to the market’s “new oil” data, they hit the right high notes, and gave us a few key takeaways. 

Takeaway Number 1: The business payments market is HOT right now. This is sort of a cross over trend from Money20/20 but the business payments market is starting to heat up, and is getting faster… one could say, it’s going real-time. As a certified payments nerd, I tend to get really excited about small changes, which usually takes YEARS to actually take hold in the market. When we first started talking about real-time payments almost a decade ago, the point that often went unsaid is that the environment and systems that were built around the payments in the business market are going to change slowly, way slower than the consumer market (which went bonkers for real-time with Venmo and Zelle in the P2P market about 5 years ago). However, I am here to report, the time is officially here for real-time payments in the business space. The AFP conference had session after session covering all aspects of faster payments. FinTech has turned its focus on this space, and banks have accelerated their roadmaps, and 2022 is going to be THE YEAR for real-time business payments. 

Takeaway Number 2: Usage of Data. With faster payments, comes better data. When you move from systems that were cutting edge when the original Star Wars premiered, to systems that were born in the age of supercomputers, needless to say, there’s going to be A LOT more information coming along with the payment. As an industry, we did a really good job in building work-arounds to this problem with ERP solutions and EDI files to go with PDFs sent via email. However, with the new payment rails, data capabilities you could only dream of 10 years ago and the ability to apply that data is now at our fingertips: cash flow forecasting, working capital management tools, eInvoicing and simple reconciliation processes are all areas where the new data capabilities will pay dividends. 

Takeaway Number 3: Collaboration and Partnerships. I have been somewhat in awe of this trend, but it was on full display last week in Washington D.C.. The question of FinTech, friend or foe, has shifted into “Big Tech, Friend or Foe” and has cleared the way for the clean answer to the first which is a resounding FRIEND. Bank and FinTech partnerships, as well as FinTech and FinTech partnerships, were front and center (at least in the exhibit hall and in the press). The rapidly expanding market, and the speed of change in the market, has created an environment where partnerships will dominate the next evolution of payments. As we moved from on prem, to data center, to cloud deployment models— the technology underpinning the engines and services also changed from proprietary code, to standardized messaging, to open APIs. We went from an extremely difficult partnership environment to one where partnerships can flourish! From solving individual niche use cases, to connecting banks to central payments infrastructure, every aspect of the payment flow is now ripe for partnership(s). Nothing is off the table (and it shouldn’t be)!

Bonus Takeaway: 2022 is going to be the year of in-person events. We got a small taste of this over the past few months, with two major shows returning to their normal calendar positions. Next year, it all indicates that we are going for more in-person events. I for one won’t miss the Zoom cocktail hours of 2020 and 2021. Nothing can replace a good meetup amongst friends and colleagues, and we can’t wait to share one with you all in 2022! 

 Read about Money20/20 in Looking Back at Money20/20


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

How to Choose an EBPP Solution: Three Factors to Consider

Electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solutions are a strategic investment for consumer-facing businesses including healthcare providers, insurance carriers, utility companies, and more. As consumers continue to move toward digital transactions as demand for contactless technology increases, a multi-channel bill payments solution can give businesses the edge they need to stay ahead of the competition.

EBPP results in reduced billing costs, enhanced security and decreased time to receive payments for businesses. The bill payments experience can have a significant impact on overall customer satisfaction, so businesses should be sure to research and choose an EBPP solution that best meets their unique needs. Here are three important factors to consider when selecting an EBPP solution.

Innovation

Payments are faster and more convenient than ever thanks to innovative technology like P2P payments, digital wallets, mobile connectivity, and more. And consumers are looking for the same speed and convenience for their bill payments. An EBPP solution should be able to accept bill payments via innovative channels like Pay by Text, intelligent personal assistants, and messaging apps. It should also combine these payments seamlessly with more traditional channels (agent, IVR, kiosk, etc.) to provide a top-down view of an organization’s entire payments program.

Customer Experience

Bill payments are often the most frequent touchpoint between billers and their customers, which is why it’s so important to deliver the right experience. Now more than ever, customers expect the process to be smooth no matter how or when they choose to pay a bill. It should be easy for customers to connect with businesses and pay their bills anytime and anywhere, using the payment channels, methods, and types they prefer.

In addition, an EBPP solution should give customers access to timely support in case they encounter any roadblocks throughout the bill payment process. Potential complexities should be mitigated by design that offers a clean and efficient interface that’s intuitive for users. A simple, easy-to-use UI combined with features like messaging and alerts can transform the bill payment process into a powerful way to engage with customers.

Flexibility

A great EBPP solution is flexible and fully customizable, from its visual design to its features and functionality. Businesses should seek a configurable EBPP solution that can accommodate unique organizational needs. An EBPP solution can be tailored to specific business requirements and combined with custom design to deliver a frictionless experience that allows businesses to cater to the needs of all customers no matter their individual preferences.

The Bottom Line: Bill payments are such a critical component of the overall customer experience that businesses can no longer afford to deliver anything less than truly exceptional. Partnering with an EBPP provider that’s rooted in innovation, customer experience, and flexibility can transform the bill payment process for both businesses and their customers.

Read more about bill payments in Why Should Businesses Offer Flexible Payment Options?

*This is an update on an original post published October 2019


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

A Look at P2P Payments

Awareness and adoption of digital payments are at an all-time high. Mobile phones, connected devices, and other emerging technology all contribute to increased consumer demand for speed, efficiency, and convenience. Person-to-person (P2P) payments are becoming more popular as consumers switch from physical payment methods like cash and credit/debit cards to digital alternatives, especially in the post-pandemic economy.

P2P payments were first made popular by payments giant PayPal, which made it possible to transfer money to other PayPal users via the web or mobile devices. The market soon expanded to include similar services from Google, Dwolla, and others, but PayPal continued to dominate the space. Now, Venmo and Zelle® are among the most popular brand names in the world of P2P payments. Here’s a closer look at both solutions.

Venmo

Launched in 2009, Venmo quickly captured attention by offering users the option to send and receive money via bank accounts, debit cards, and prepaid cards without incurring a fee. Since its introduction, Venmo’s mobile-centric approach and social component have made it a front-runner in the P2P payments space.

Venmo was acquired by payment service provider Braintree Payments in 2012 before PayPal absorbed the parent company in 2013. Venmo has 361 million active accounts and is on-track to generate $900 million in revenue in 2021.

Zelle

The success of P2P payments platforms like Venmo spurred innovation from the banking sector as well. Individual banks long offered their customers the ability to send and receive money to and from other customers; however, due to lack of centralization, none of these services were formidable competitors for solutions like PayPal.

A bank-owned consortium, Early Warning®, launched its own P2P payments solution in 2017 named Zelle. It uses alias-based authentication of account holders via email addresses and mobile phone numbers to connect users and facilitate near-instantaneous money movement without fees. As of Q2 2021,1700 financial institutions are signed on with Zelle, representing 74 percent of all U.S. DDA accounts and $120 billion worth of payments sent over its network. 

What’s Next for P2P?

In an age when people might be more likely to carry a smartphone than cash and cards, P2P payments are a viable digital alternative to traditional payment methods—and demand only continues to increase as consumers demand more contactless options. These solutions make it easy for consumers to split a restaurant check, pay a friend back for a concert ticket, or send a monetary gift. But P2P solutions are expanding beyond person-to-person payments. Zelle offers a disbursements solution as well as a solution for small businesses. And Venmo is expanding its reach into merchant acceptance and diversifying with its branded debit card. The next phase of P2P may see these solutions emerging as holistic payment solutions that can benefit both consumers and businesses.

Read more about P2P in P2P Money Movement—The Retrospective You Didn’t Know You Needed.

*This is an update on an original post published October 2019


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

5 Request for Pay (RfP) Use Cases for Billers

Real-time payments is a critical part of payments modernization. Request for Pay (RfP), is financial messaging scheme built on the rails of real-time payments, that enables billers to initiate real-time payments from bill payees with the click of a button. The request includes all relevant invoicing information, and the payee can pay immediately or at a scheduled time, giving them more control over when the funds are taken from their account. It’s a win-win—the biller benefits from irrevocable, good funds, and the payee gets more visibility and control over when the bill is paid. Here are five use cases for billers that are accelerating the adoption of RfP.

  1. “Risky Payments” or Pre-Collection/End of Service Payments – I am not talking about “Risky” in the Tom Cruise sliding across the floor kind of way, but risky in the sense of a WEB Debit ACH payment bouncing back on the biller for NSF or other reasons. The good funds model that RTP operates on means that the payment will only occur if the funds are in the account. This takes away the possibility of incurring a high fee for attempting to withdraw funds that may not be there. It also gives the bill payee the ability to pay the bill WHEN funds are in the account versus having to try to time the ACH delay. Also, the funds are irrevocable once transferred so billers get certainty of funds, which can allow them to continue to continue their services, or deliver goods to the payee.

  1. Payment Option for the “Just in time Bill Payer”I will admit, I fall into this category from time to time (or all the time). I seldom pay bills before they are due, and try my best to keep my funds in my bank account for as long as possible, and I know I am not alone. With RfP, billers can provide me the ability to wait until the last second to pay, and receive those funds IMMEDIATELY. In today’s bill payment space, there can be anywhere from 1 to 3 days where my biller really doesn’t know: if I sent a check, paid via ACH from my online bank or from their bill payment site, or whether funds are actually in my account to pay the debit (which brings us back up to the first use case). RfP gives billers another option to help their clients pay, how they want to pay with when they want to pay.

  1. One-Off Bills/Invoices – For high value payments, the RfP rails gives billers the ability to send a one off bill or invoice to their consumer and business customers that can help accelerate their accounts receivable cycle. The message is delivered securely through the RTP network, directly to the payees bank account, where they can simply accept the charges and initiate the payment. By combining the eInvoice/Bill information to be sent on the payment network, the payee has everything in one place—no need to chase down the invoice PDF in an email, or try and locate a paper bill to manually enter details on a payment screen at the biller’s site or on their own consumer or business banking account. This use case will continue to grow in importance as the network’s limits continue to rise!

  1. Conversion of Non-auto/Recurring ACH payersThis use case is similar to our second use case, however I don’t necessarily think this group at their core are procrastinators—they just like to be in full control. For many, setting up bill payment for recurring or auto-pay is so they never have to think about the bill. I can raise my hand for plenty of those types of payments, the ones that are basically the same dollar amount every month and don’t put me at risk of an inadvertent overdraft on my checking account. However, for bills that may vary or come infrequently (maybe quarterly or bi-annually), there are plenty of payees that would prefer to validate the amount of the payment, and control when their payment leaves their hands. RfP gives these individuals the perfect tool to centralize their bills and give them even more control on when the payment leaves their account.

  1. Keeping Pace with a Changing MarketAs my colleague mentioned in the Top RfP Test Cases, Use Cases, and Case Studies We’re Watching blog post, some of our markets largest banks and Billers are moving towards piloting RfP. As this new payment experience moves from niche to mass market, making sure your bank can support your ability to bill your clients and offer them the payment services they want is key. The payments market is transforming and consumer and business expectations won’t be far behind!

 

Read about some of the exciting RfP test cases that we’re watching right now in the market today in  Top RfP Test Cases, Use Cases, and Case Studies We’re Watching.


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com.

Skip-a-Pay for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us and seasonal retail sales are expected to jump between 7 percent and 9 percent over 2020, fueled by consumers’ eagerness to celebrate the holidays on the tail-end of pandemic austerity.

This is also the time of year when consumers might need more flexibility when it comes to directing their dollars—especially in light of recovery from the economic uncertainties of the past year. For example, funds that are earmarked for loan payments might be useful to help make holiday-related purchases. In these situations, some customers might want to take advantage of a skip-a-payment option for their bill payments.

What is skip-a-payment?

Skip-a-payment allows customers to do just that: take a month off from a regularly scheduled bill payment and reserve that money for other purposes. The customer typically needs to have their account in good standing to take advantage of this option, if it’s offered by their biller.

How does it work?

Billers typically offer skip-a-payment for a limited time period (for example, the holiday season might include November, December, and January) and assess a fee for using the service. Customers pay the fee instead of making the bill payment and can direct that cash toward other expenditures. The skipped payment is typically tacked on to the end of the loan, thereby extending its life.

Who offers skip-a-payment?

Billers may or may not choose to offer skip-a-payment depending on a variety of factors including the nature of their business, its payments operation, and the types of loans they service. Billers can begin the conversation with their electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution provider to discuss their options for offering skip-a-payment to their customers.

The Bottom Line: Skip-a-payment can be a helpful option for cash-conscious consumers during the holiday season. It’s relevance to a specific business will depend on a variety of factors including customer demand, operational considerations, and the ease of implementing via an EBPP solution.

Read Why Should Businesses Offer Flexible Payment Options to better understand why providing flexible options like skip a pay can help with receivables. 

*This is an update on an original post published November 2019


Alacriti’s Orbipay EBPP is a customizable electronic billing and payments solution for businesses and financial institutions of all sizes. Skip a pay is just one of several Orbipay EBPP features available to help you provide a great payment experience. For more information, please contact us at info@alacriti.com.

Looking Back at Money20/20

It took 18 months for me to get on a plane again, get back to meeting with friends and colleagues in person, and to talk payments all day with people just as interested as I am. I had the pleasure of experiencing all of these firsts at the greatest FinTech show on Earth, Money20/20. The location for Money20/20 paralleled my feelings for finally traveling. Much like the experience of the tired travelers lost and wandering in a desert on television shows, Las Vegas is a mirage, rising out of the sand with   towering hotels and casinos. This year’s Money20/20 beckoned us FinTech geeks to meet once again, and oh boy, did we ever! From Sunday’s opening sessions, to being asked to leave the show floor on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., we gathered and geeked out!

The show was very different this year, and in an amazingly good way. Smaller than the previous iterations for obvious reasons, the show’s design and flow made it feel both intimate and intensely alive and sprawling simultaneously. Unlike previous years, the show’s main stages were all in the exhibit hall, making it easier to drop into sessions while still keeping a full meeting schedule. The folks that came this year truly wanted to be there, and represented the “doer” class of talent in our industry. Conversations got technical, but that meant relationships and partnerships were getting deeper in every booth on the floor as well as in the appropriately named “Connections Lounge”.

After 18 months of only virtual conferences, it was great to have a full immersive experience and finally get a good pulse on what the big trends are in our industry right now. I can tell you just by looking at the sheer volume of attending companies focused on the fraud ecosystem, fraud is leading the pack on the hot industry topic list.

Trend 1 – The Fraud Ecosystem – Whether it was an AI and machine learning focused company or a company uber laser focused on risk scoring a single data field, or trying to validate a digital identity—the topic of fraud was never far. Entire rows of vendors were dedicated to the space, each looking at a different piece of the fraud puzzle. A truly successful fraud strategy requires a layered approach, and the future of the space is going to rely on the ideas and products we saw this week.

Trend 2 – Small Business Banking – Another welcomed shift in focus on the payment space was a more broad focus on the small business payment needs and B2B payments. Long the forgotten client segment sandwiched between corporate banking and retail banking, the small business space is ready to get the full transformation treatment. The FinTech focus on this was evident all week from the session topics to the vendors on the floor.

Trend 3 – Digital Currencies and Crypto – I think the shift away from being “Bitcoin” centric or focused has been welcome, generally addressing how we get better access from the traditional payments and banking space to the crypto space. While not the hot topic it was a few years ago, the more focused approach on bridging the existing gap was welcome.

Trend 4 – Partnerships –  I had called on this trend a few years ago. Maybe it was the design of this event, and the attendees themselves, but the discussions of who is working with whom seemed to be everywhere. From payments, to fraud prevention, to the aforementioned crypto space, the partnership discussions were all over. As the problems we are trying to solve become increasingly complex, this trend is going to become even more important. The saying “it takes a village” couldn’t be more true.

Trend 5 – In-Person Events are Back! – The final trend is maybe the most obvious, in-person events are back and this week didn’t disappoint. The energy was palpable all week and everyone just seemed genuinely happy to have face to face interaction. It was a welcome change to the endless Zoom/Webex/Teams meetings of the past 18 months. Now to finally see the people that are changing the financial services space and designing what that ecosystem is going to look like for the next generation of products and services. 

 For a forecast of 2022 trends, watch the webinar playback, Top Payment Trends to Watch in 2022


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

Help for the Holidays—from Chatbots

The holidays bring on a flurry of activity for most businesses every year. The pandemic seems to have no effect slowing down the year’s end. In fact, 68% of organizations said they saw a greater increase in customer service inquiries during the 2020 holiday season compared to the 2019 holiday season. 

For call centers at financial institutions, this season can get hectic. Accountholders call in for their balances, some to enquire about an overdraft and perhaps to dispute NSF fees. Also, unconventional spending may trigger fraud alerts, which increases call volume even further. Friendly fraud, in which a consumer demands a reversal of a charge they actually made, because they didn’t recognize it triggers even more phone calls—90% of consumers who don’t recognize a purchase they made online call their card issuer first. Of course, this is all during a time of the year when many employees ask for personal time off to celebrate.

In 2020, many organizations used chatbots to free up customer service agents, allowing them to have more time to deliver personalized and focused support for customers with more complex issues. This can also apply to banking. Call centers can be relieved and provide better service when there’s a chatbot to answer standard inquiries.

We spoke with Jenn Markus, Glia’s Director of Technology Partnerships, for her take on how chatbots can help financial institutions run smoothly during the holidays.

It’s hard to get customer service right when you’re extremely busy. Do you have an example of a financial institution that you think really got it right?

There are so many examples of financial institutions doing things right, it’s hard to choose! Without calling out a specific financial institution, I would say that the most successful service organizations have common traits: they are proactively meeting customers where they are in their journey and they are balancing automation with personalized experiences.

At its core, Digital Customer Service (DCS) is all about providing a positive customer experience, based on each customer’s unique needs. Successful FIs are meeting customers in the digital channel of their choice—chat, voice, or video—but they are also offering a seamless transition between channels for live support as appropriate. Specialized AI-enabled chatbots can handle more straightforward inquiries, like reporting account balances or routing numbers, but can also transfer the complete interaction to Customer Service Representatives (CSR) for more complex questions. The result is a win-win situation: customers are able to navigate rapidly through your digital properties  while CSRs are freed-up to handle more complex issues.

Considering 32% of all customers will stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one negative experience, what’s a good way for a financial institution to keep the inconvenience and frustration of card denials down, without compromising the integrity of fraud prevention?

While suspected fraudulent activity accounts for a fair share of transaction denials, there are a number of other reasons a card can be declined at the point-of-sale or during an online transaction. Throughout the transaction authorization process, there are various checks and validations occuring behind the scenes by the payment processor. Each one of these validation points present an opportunity for a transaction to be denied. In most cases, the only piece of information the cardholder will receive is a notification that their transaction has been denied and perhaps a denial code, which means nothing to them. Receiving a denial in public can be an embarrassing experience, just imagine a first date or perhaps hosting a business dinner. Additionally, the cardholder is in the dark about why their card was declined and needs to follow a multi-step process to resolve the issue.

As you mentioned in your question, according to a PWC survey, 32% of all customers will stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one negative experience, and 59% will walk away after several bad experiences. This presents high stakes for a financial institution trying to not only retain the existing cardholder accounts, but also acquire new ones and grow transaction volume.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though! While card denials are somewhat inevitable, there are solutions available to financial institutions to improve the cardholder experience. Financial institutions that offer Digital Customer Service (DCS) options for cardholders to seamlessly connect are seeing improved customer satisfaction results. Enabling cardholders to connect in the channel of their choice and where they are—OnScreen —can help resolve any issues quickly.

For those who aren’t tech savvy, what’s the best way to make digital customer service something they can actually appreciate?

Glia’s Digital Customer Service platform is well-suited for users of all technical levels. Customer Service Reps (CSRs) have a single view into the customer’s journey, providing context to the customers’ experience to and through the point of contact. CoBrowsing, or Collaborative Browsing, enables CSRs to guide customers through friction points. Reps can use DCS to demonstrate rather than tell customers how to navigate digital properties and resolve issues. Customers don’t have to download any apps and can choose the communication mode—voice, video, chat— that they are most comfortable with.

Where do you think a chatbot would be of greatest service in banking during the holidays?

During the holidays, there seems to be an increased sense of stress and pressure for customers and members. As they rush to finish holiday shopping or year-end tasks, more time-sensitive questions come up. With virtual assistants, your customers will receive a faster, more consistent support experience and your representatives will be able to easily handle multiple engagements without a decrease in quality. As I mentioned previously, chatbots can be deployed to handle routine inquiries, freeing up your CSRs to tackle more detailed interactions. As a result, there are less wait times, faster and more consistent service

We’ve all talked to a chatbot who couldn’t answer our questions and then had to explain the issue again to a live rep or call in. What’s the best way to prevent that friction in the chatbot experience?

Digital Customer Service (DCS) offers a seamless experience for both customers and operators. Glia’s operator interface displays the customers’ interaction as well as where they are on your digital properties so that the CSR can jump straight into the interaction with full context and doesn’t need to ask “How may I help you?” Further, Glia’s platform allows operators to utilize the channel that is most appropriate for the engagement, so they can seamlessly move between chat, video or voice as well as assist with screen sharing and CoBrowsing to efficiently service customers.

From an end-user perspective, what do you think are the greatest benefits to banking with an institution that offers a chatbot?

The first benefit is meeting the customer where they are—OnScreen. Chatbots are a great entry point to understand what a customer needs and provide answers for simple tasks, such as a balance inquiry.

Being able to quickly speak with a live rep from within the chatbot by simply pushing a button is a tremendous convenience and also keeps the digital connection. Plus, reps benefit from seeing the full context when they get connected to the customer. Chatbots that just offer a phone number to speak to a live agent disrupt that digital connection, causing a friction point where many will simply abandon the call. 

The immediacy without having to navigate the dreaded phone tree is yet another benefit, leading to a positive experience. Chatbots free up agents, to the benefit of even those who call in and DON’T use the chatbot. The call center isn’t as overwhelmed and callers are able to speak with someone fairly quickly.

This year, holiday forecasts predict a 7% increase in year-over-year spending in November and December. Banks and credit unions can drive spending around two months before the holidays by marketing relevant products and promoting cards so they’re top of mind/wallet. For example, increasing credit lines. And then after the holidays, offer balance transfers or convenience checks to prevent competitors from stealing away cardholders with similar offers. How could a chatbot assist?

First, simply helping to keep CSRs available, and wait times down helps a great deal during busy seasons. Financial institutions might consider deploying microbots that are able to handle specific requests common during the holidays, such as credit card spending limits. In fact, financial institutions should regularly evaluate their chatbot strategy based on seasonal usage data. Lastly, give the chatbots some character. Everyone appreciates a season’s greetings and a friendly ho ho ho in December! 

Read more about chatbots in 4 Ways Chatbots Are Revolutionizing Electronic Bill Payments.


Alacriti and Glia have partnered to assist financial institutions in providing their members with best in class digital-first service. Glia’s Digital Member Service Platform combines all communications into one unified digital experience. With the partnership, members have access to Ella, Alacriti’s AI chatbot that’s fine tuned to answer bill pay questions and is fully integrated within Glia’s Digital Member Service platform. For more information about Digital Member Service powered by Alacriti and Glia, please please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com

Faster Payments Use Cases – What Does the Future of B2B Payments Look Like?

When it comes to faster payment discussions, the most popular questions we hear are: 

  • What are some use cases of real-time payments?
  • How do I show an ROI on the investment required to start on a faster payments journey

These are great questions, and the fact that we get them in some form in every introductory meeting we have shows us that the market is rapidly gearing up to move forward on their real-time payment projects. When it comes to the questions, answering the first is what leads us to the second answer.

So, where to start with the use cases? Identify if your financial institution has any immediate client needs—taking care of low-hanging fruit and listening to your customer or member base is and always should be step one. Quite frankly, if any are pressing enough, you don’t need to read any further. Get going on your faster payments project ASAP! However, if there are no immediate needs, or a scattering of needs that seem to be all over the place I would offer the following advice.

If you are a financial institution that has both consumers and commercial clients or members, the first use cases of focus should be your business clients. This is because, for all practical purposes, business banking is driven by a fee-based mindset while consumer banking is a free-based mindset. Meaning, as you introduce new functionality or enhanced services, your business clients expect to pay for those improvements. Whereas, as an industry, we have, for better or worse, trained consumers to expect to receive services for free.

Second, businesses of all types benefit from faster access to funds, whether it’s improving their working capital management or procure to pay or order to cash processes. Access to immediate and irrevocable funds helps all aspects of B2B payments.  That’s not even going into the value of all of the data and information that can be sent along with the payment in the new payment rails. This will have a great impact on the eInvoicing and Business Bill Payment models that were built around the legacy payment infrastructures we still currently rely on.

As the adoption of faster payments continues, and more financial institutions connect to the RTP network, and additional clearing and settlement channels come online, offering real-time payments will rapidly become a necessity. Businesses will find faster money movement services from other financial institutions that are connected to these networks and realize the potential they bring to their treasury and operations teams. The subset of use cases for B2B payments is massive, and as noted, are traditionally fee-based. So, the ROI of offering these services tends to become an exercise of setting a price point per transaction (or bundled transactions into a tiered service model) and build out your volume models to show revenue, similar to other payment types. However, as noted earlier, the value of the payment rail is in more than just faster funds movement (which is great on its own). It’s also in the data that moves with the transaction, giving financial institutions the ingredients to create net new products and services, and that is where the true ROI resides.

Learn more in Why Banks and Credit Unions Need Real-Time Payments.


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com.

Zoomers on Campus: Where I Choose to Bank

*Originally published on CUInsight.com

With many Zoomers in college and new to the banking industry, there is much to learn about what financial institutions can do to improve their banking experience. Financial institutions can attract more Zoomers by highlighting and discussing what they value in terms of personalized experiences, customer service, and rewards. This is critical, as Zoomers are an imminent major target audience for financial services.  Here, we provide insight into why Zoomers bank where they do, according to data and anecdotes from Zoomers themselves.

Personalized Experience

Mobile banking, better rates, and personal relationships are common factors that Zoomers are looking for when it comes to banking. 64% of Zoomers are looking for a more personalized banking experience with product and service recommendations relevant to their unique situation. Especially as new college students, it’s often the first time they are taking control of their budget. “I just opened my account earlier, and I chose my bank because I like their customer service. I have a lot of questions, so I would rather talk to someone so they can help me,” says Kayla, a freshman at the University of New Haven. 

For Zoomers, customer service is essential. Whether it be from digital chat options or over the phone, they want to be assisted fast and feel cared for. “I would switch to another bank if they offered great customer service. That to me means 24/7 representatives available that greet you, informative videos about banking or how to use mobile banking or FAQs is very helpful,” stated Lizette, a junior at Caldwell University. A study conducted by PYMNTS.com and SundaySky found that 72% of consumers would be very likely to switch to FIs that provide video content on its products. Personalized videos work because they drive engagement. This includes a higher click-through rate and interaction rate, which leads to a higher sales conversion rate.

Partnerships, Incentives, and More

Many financial institutions partner with colleges to gain competitive advantages, such as having only one bank or credit union on campus and strategizing where to place ATMs and signage in high-traffic areas. They can even set stands on campus to hold giveaways and promotions. Although it doesn’t guarantee that the student will sign-up with the bank or credit union on campus, financial institutions need to get creative with incentives and rewards programs tied to achieving Zoomers’ financial goals. A lot of college students are looking into what financial institutions have to offer to them. 

Nicole, a senior from Western Connecticut State University says, “I look for banks that offer me low-interest rates and cashback programs for getting good grades; every little bit helps during school.” A great example of financial institutions offering incentives for mobile digital wallets is the free Kasasa Cash Back Checking rewards program offered through Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. When asked about banks and credit unions on campus and if she uses them, Hardi, a student at Temple University, stated, “Yes, I do use them on campus. They are very accessible and are located in almost all the buildings here.” At Temple University’s Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, for example, not only do they offer up to $10 in monthly refunds for nationwide ATM fees, but they also offer a $15 sign-up bonus. Additionally, for every monthly purchase, they give up to $10 in refunds for iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play. These money-saving incentives are very appealing. From rewards programs on debit card purchases to surcharge-free ATM networks, these incentives and programs can make financial institutions very attractive.

Improvements

As we all know, when financial institutions make their way into high schools and colleges, they bring educational materials, rewards, and paper forms. Given that Zoomers place a high value on environmental concerns, with 67% believing that climate change should be a major priority, go paperless whenever possible, e.g., QR codes. Not only will going paperless show your alignment with Zoomer environmental considerations but there will be less friction in the sign-up process. Consider this: not many students want to waste time filling out a paper form when they can scan a QR code instead. Consumers utilize QR codes on their cellphones in about 25% of cases, but that is the whole population. What about the Zoomers on campus? It’s crucial to understand how the educational system is assisting Zoomers on campus. Many colleges have effectively implemented QR codes in their classrooms or college campus events. It’s less traditional and more focused on technology. AI applications not only deliver the same knowledge in a more efficient manner, but they also improve student engagement

Not surprisingly, social media is where Zoomers obtain a lot of information, and that also includes financial habits. Financial institutions should make sure that they are posting content that is relevant to Zoomers on the platforms they are engaging with— e.g., Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. YouTube and Instagram are ranked the most used social media platforms by Zoomers. Approximately 89% of them visit or use YouTube. 

Financial institutions can take advantage of this opportunity to teach Zoomers about their finances, as over 80% of Zoomers are concerned about their finances, and about 72% of Zoomers interviewed in a Pew Social Media study say they use at least 11 of the social networks included in the study (Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat). “I do think social media can bring more awareness about financial habits, but we have to be careful of what information we can trust. I have seen some ads or posts on social media that gave the wrong information about banking,” says Hardi, a Student at Temple University. That said, many of these advertisements and information are not directly from financial institutions. Many Zoomers would benefit immensely from learning information directly from a financial institution’s social media. That is why it is crucial to have a strong and relevant social media presence.

To summarize, when it comes to luring Zoomers to campus, having personalized experiences, incentives, similar ideals, and a social presence are incredibly crucial. With practically everything being done on social media today, it’s critical to recognize that it’s one of the primary resources for  Zoomers. More digital options, such as QR codes or allowing payments from more modern channels like Amazon Alexa, have the potential to completely shift the game and improve their banking experiences. For many Zoomers, having a positive impact on society is extremely important, as is having a sense of ownership. Knowing a handful about the Zoomer generation can aid financial organizations in making numerous improvements to their customer or member experience and convenience.

Read more about Zoomers in Zoomer Generation’s Core Qualities and Values


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com

Top RfP Test Cases, Use Cases, and Case Studies We’re Watching

Request for Pay (RfP) is a functionality offered by TCH’s RTP® Network that allows a company or individual to send a “request” to be paid for a good/service. The receiver needs only to click a button to accept, and the payment is sent in real-time at that moment or at a scheduled date. Bill payers don’t have to worry about keeping track of various bill pay systems, and billers accelerate their receivables and benefit from a good funds model, meaning no failed payments due to NSF or incorrect account information. RfP is said to have the potential to revolutionize bill pay as we know it. There are some exciting RfP test cases already in market today, here are a few of the ones that we’re watching right now:

BNY Mellon

In May 2021, BNY Mellon was the first bank to offer RfP to corporate clients (white-labeled as Real-Time E-Bills and Payments). They were also the originator of the first ever TCH RTP transaction in 2017. According to BNY Mellon, key advantages of RfP for billers include higher straight-through processing levels, faster collections, simplified reconciliation, increased transparency, and lower costs. For the bill payers, they benefit from better convenience, transparency, and control of their cash flow. It’s expected that this solution will be particularly appealing to businesses where there is very high volume, and a need to quickly collect payments e.g., utilities, credit card companies, cable, internet, and cell-phone providers. 

In September, wireless carrier Verizon collaborated with BNY Mellon and Citigroup to expedite delivery and processing for their bills. In this partnership, BNY Mellon is the billing bank, Verizon is the biller, and Citi is the consumer’s bank. They are emphasizing to customers that this service is a way to avoid overdrafts. This is a convenient alternative for customers who have weekly budgets or irregular income streams, making automatic bill payments unfeasible. 

Chase Bank

In August 2021, Chase Bank announced that they are launching a B2B payment option using RfP, which will enable immediate wholesale payments between companies and certain consumer to business transactions (e.g., buying a car). For the buying a car example, consumers who aren’t taking out a loan can make a real-time digital payment instead of cash, cashier’s check or wire transfer. For corporates, this will be helpful because with better transparency, corporates will know when they were paid in real-time so they can ship a product or provide a service. For example, a gas distribution company can get paid on the spot after replenishing gas tanks instead of waiting for ten days because of the paper invoicing involved. In particular, smaller firms that are burdened by paper billing, ACH and wire fees will benefit. Approximately 42% of B2B payments are still done using paper checks. The full scale launch will include other The Clearing House RTP Network participant banks, and eventually B2C and B2B use cases. 

U.S. Bank

To provide new efficiencies, U.S. Bank allows billers to use RfP through portal, batch, and API-drive origination experiences. A payment related message is sent by the biller to customers through their bank, and the biller’s customer approves the payment. The biller then receives a status notification: payment, scheduled payment, or rejection. Richard Erario, executive vice president and head of global treasury management for U.S. Bank said, “Right now, we’re among a handful of financial institutions that have enabled RfP for billers, but we expect that number to grow considerably in 2022. Adoption by more financial institutions is critical to RfP’s success.”

Learn more about RfP in Request for Pay (RfP)–Exploring the New Frontier of Bill Payments.


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com.

Zoomer Financial Habits: Loans

Ever wondered how many Zoomers are confused about their finances? With many newly entering the financial sector, about 28% deemed their generation “fiscally irresponsible.” Zoomers who are unsure how to handle their finances have started entering into the real world. Some are pondering student loans, while some are thinking of investing in the stock market. And some are even exploring home loans and much more. What exactly are these areas of interest for the older members of the Zoomer generation, and what are the statistics behind them? We explore this topic and the inputs of actual Zoomers here.

Student Loans

The average Zoomer holds $17,338 in student loans. To provide some context, the average tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2020-21 academic year increased by 1% to $22,180 for in-state students at four-year public colleges, according to the College Board. The same expenses at four-year private institutions rose by nearly 2% to an average of $50,770. The rise of college tuition, amongst other factors, means more students are looking to take out more loans. “My experience was okay. I had to take a loan when I was in college, so I didn’t mind it, but I didn’t like that they had all these interest charges,” said Kevin, recent Zoomer graduate and Software Development Engineer at Amazon.

If college students decide to continue their education at graduate school, their tuition will only increase, resulting in a likely need to get a higher loan amount. Neary 25% of student loan borrowers went to graduate school, and these students hold about half of all outstanding student debt. The average amount of student debt for an MBA student is $66,300, $71,000 for a master’s degree, $145,500 for a law degree, and $201,490 for a medical degree. Jamie, a graduate student at Montclair State University, said, “I needed to take out more loans for my master’s degree because I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for school by myself or even with the help of my parents; it’s too much.” 

Vehicle Ownership

With a large number of Zoomers in high school and beyond, many are considering automobile ownership. Zoomers who did not have taking out loans (e.g., vehicle ownership) on their list of priorities previously now have surpassed millennials when it comes to doing just that. For auto dealers and lenders to approach Zoomers, they will need to come up with a more tech-savvy approach. With only 36% of Zoomers having auto loans just a few years ago, they don’t want to end up in the same debt as their elders. Financial institutions need to focus on the goal of becoming debt-free when approaching Zoomers. Educating them and providing lessons will help a great deal since many do not intend to be in debt. However, they are just never taught how to prevent it.

Investing in Stocks 

80% of Gen-Z investors surveyed by LendingTree’s Magnify Money said they took out a loan to invest in stocks compared to 28% of Gen Xers and 9% of Baby Boomers. They are most likely to take out a personal loan, usually borrowing 5,000 or more. Zoomers are also educating each other on the importance of investing their money. 57% said they wanted to learn more about investing. Many use social media to get their financial investment advice from apps such as TikTok. The hashtag “#investing” on TikTok garners over 2.8 billion views. Many of these videos  center around investing tips in stocks. The downside is that all of these sources are not necessarily reliable or accurate. “I’ve seen a lot of finance tips on TikTok, but not all of them are trustworthy because anyone could have posted it, so I think tips coming from banks [or credit unions] can be more reliable,” stated Stacy, a recent graduate from Montclair State University. 

Investing in their future

When it comes to their biggest life purchases, such as buying a home, Zoomers want to hear from their banks and credit unions. The longer in duration and more personally meaningful the loan is, the higher levels of interaction, transparency, and access desired. Inadequate communication and effort throughout the loan application process can be perceived as a lack of interest from the bank or credit union.

Zoomers hold a 2% share of the housing market. It is important to note that within the next few years, this percentage will most likely increase. Building a better score is crucial for them, and with many financial institutions already offering free credit card reports, they should make sure Zoomers are aware as well. The main question now is how well these financial institutions are reaching out to the next generation of consumers, Zoomers. “Transparency is what we need. I didn’t know about the APR, so getting more context on how these loans are going to charge you will be helpful. The process of getting a loan was very simple, but the process of understanding how loans are given to you was a whole different story,” says Kevin.

From student loans to house loans, big expenses are coming up for the Zoomer generation. With many already taking advantage of low-interest rates and focusing on buying homes where the economy is growing, we can tell Zoomers also value rapid growth. With 64% of Zoomer’s getting financial information from YouTube, financial institutions must have a stronger social media and online presence. In order to step up their game and prepare for Zoomers, financial institutions must compare their basic principles to those of the Zoomers. After doing this, only then can they attract their upcoming customers and members. For Zoomers to be more confident about their finances, they need education from the direct source—their financial institutions.

Read more about Zoomers in Zoomer Generation’s Core Qualities and Values


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time payments, digital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.

Mobile Payments: What Will It Take to Convince Consumers?

As if mobile payments at the point-of-sale weren’t already becoming more commonplace for merchants and consumers, the pandemic only exacerbated adoption even further. As the technology becomes more ubiquitous, the lion’s share of mobile payments in the U.S. is being conducted via four platforms—Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and the Starbucks app.

While the Starbucks app once dominated the mobile payments space, in 2019, it was finally overtaken by Apple Pay with 27.7 million in the U.S using the payment platform that year, according to eMarketer. However, the Starbucks mobile app remains a formidable force, with 25.2 million users accounting for 39.4 percent of mobile payment app users. Google Pay and Samsung Pay come in third and fourth, with 12.1 and 10.8 million users, respectively. 

While mobile payments adoption has been slower in the U.S. than in many international markets, it is increasing. With the onset of the global pandemic, adoption has grown and is expected to continue to increase. According to Mercator, 39 percent of consumers reported making a purchase via a mobile phone (either online or in-store) in 2020, an increase of 5 percent over the previous year. What will it take to accelerate mobile payment adoption by convincing U.S. consumers to change their payment habits and embrace the benefits?

Accessibility

For many consumers, mobile payments are still an abstract concept. There are also key demographics that might be uncomfortable using the technology. Widespread adoption of new payment methods often takes time, as seen previously with the transition from cash to card-based payments.

In order to convince these consumers to adopt a new payment method, digital wallet providers need to emphasize convenience and accessibility. From sign-up to daily use, everything about the app’s design must be seamless and intuitive. Any amount of friction in the user experience can mean the difference between a consumer quickly integrating the technology into his or her daily life and one who never opens the app again.

Merchant Acceptance

Late adopters are out there, but for millions of other consumers who embrace the benefits of mobile payments, accessibility is not the issue. Despite their enthusiasm, they may be discouraged from using mobile payments due to a lack of merchant acceptance. Until merchant acceptance is as ubiquitous as credit cards and debit cards, mass adoption of mobile payment platforms will likely remain an uphill battle.

Consumers shouldn’t have to wonder whether their mobile payment platform of choice is accepted by the retailers and service providers they frequent most often. Businesses can display signage that helps take the guesswork out of whether a certain mobile payment type is accepted.

Merchants can also encourage adoption by offering customers enhanced rewards. Part of the Starbucks app’s success may be due in part to the seamless integration between its rewards program and mobile payment technology. Integrating these features (plus mobile ordering) into a single, sleek, and comprehensive app allows customers to place orders, make payments, manage their accounts, and collect rewards from the convenience of their mobile devices.

Disruption

Mobile payments took off in India after the central government announced the sudden nullification of large-denomination Rupee notes. This announcement left millions who were previously dependent on cash transactions panicking to find a secure and legitimate way to pay for goods and services. Without a similarly disruptive force giving consumers a real reason to change their payment habits in the U.S., adoption is expected to remain slow. However, the fast rise of mobile payments in other parts of the world could convince U.S. consumers to embrace the trend as well.

The Bottom Line: Mobile payments can be faster, more convenient, and more secure than traditional payment methods. Convincing consumers to overcome the hurdles that challenge widespread adoption will require creative thinking from mobile payment providers and merchants alike. Enhancing accessibility, broadening merchant acceptance, and embracing disruption are just three factors that can help encourage a permanent shift in consumer behavior.

*This is an update on an original post published July 2019

P2P Money Movement – The Retrospective You Didn’t Know You Needed

Person-to-person money movement is right there with mobile payments as the number one trend over the past fifteen years. It’s been a hot topic at every conference I have been to in my career and is never far from the payments discussion at any financial institution I have ever stepped foot in (over 200 globally at this point). The experience and ease of moving money from one person to another have evolved a lot over the years, now occurring  in milliseconds, whether domestic or global. However, it hasn’t always been this easy and still is inconsistent 20 years after the launch of PayPal, which helped start this whole thing. So let’s take a look back at where we’ve been and where we are going. 

The 2000s – P2P Launches 

It’s weird to think that 2000 was over 20 years ago. I know every generation goes through something like this, but 2000 had so much build-up as the 1990s waned that by the time Y2K arrived, we knew things were about to be different. And as Elon Musk and PayPal launched into revolutionizing payments, another equally important trend was unfolding. Everyone suddenly had cell phones, enabling communication no matter where they were at all times. By the middle of the 2000s, cellphones became smartphones, and in the world of payments, three new companies/products solely focused on money movement from an individual to another individual launched, Venmo in 2009, and PopMoney and clearXchange in 2010. The biggest question I recall from this time was, how to generate revenue from what was free money movement?

The 2010s – P2P for the Masses 

 By 2010, digital banking was in full swing. You could deposit your checks from anywhere with a smartphone though most of us were still getting used to doing that at an ATM versus in the branch. Sending friends money was still dominated by either handing them cash in person, sending them a check, or setting them up on your bill pay center to outsource the check-writing process to your bank. This is unless they were on the PopMoney network or serviced by the same bank. For me, P2P started when a friend mentioned Venmo, and the rest of that story, as they say, is history. My circle of friends adopted the app, and the same few dollars have bounced back and forth ever since! Venmo jumped the shark and got to the consumer market, one that clearXchange and Popmoney had been navigating through the financial institutions to reach slowly and steadily for most of the decade. Then clearXchange merged with Early Warning, and the financial institutions got what they were looking for with the launch of the Zelle Network. Also worth noting here, in 2017, The Clearing House (whose ownership overlaps with EWS) launched a real-time money movement network, RTP®, enabling real-time payments to move instantly from any account connected to the network to another. 

The 2020s – Today and Tomorrow 

Today, the original use case of P2P payments, done by both the P2P closed-loop players, is dominated by CashApp and Venmo. Also in the space is the entirety of the GAFA (Google Pay and Apple Pay) crowd and the dominant player in the bank space, Zelle. The question that irked the market back in the early 2000s remained though. How do I monetize these transactions? For many financial institutions, the P2P space still represented a cost. However, the closed-loop players started to adapt their offering. While the money movement from person to person as well as money into the network remained free, the applications started to introduce fees and new features that started to capitalize on their large user bases. Whether that’s merchant acceptance fees, instant transfers out of the wallet to a bank account, or purchasing crypto, the evolution of P2P has moved way beyond the initial use case. However, simplifying the money movement from one bank account to another bank account is a story that will continue to evolve. With the RTP network gaining in reach and the coming launch of the FedNow network, the P2P space will likely continue to grow and expand, and the ubiquity of reach is getting closer to reality. 

Learn more in the webinar, Payments Modernization Update: What FedNow, Nacha, and TCH Updates Mean to Your Payments Strategy.


Alacriti’s Cosmos for RTP® enables financial institutions and organizations to quickly and seamlessly connect to The Clearing House’s RTP® network without the burden of significant infrastructure overhauls or capital investments. To speak with an Alacriti real-time payments expert about RfP, please contact us at (908) 791-2916 or info@alacriti.com

Buy Now, Pay Later – Good, Bad, or Somewhere in the Middle?

If you hadn’t heard of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) before, you probably have by now because over the last 18 months, you couldn’t hide from it. Bringing in some of the largest FinTech valuations, the BNPL space is really on fire. For the skeptics, BNPL represents a questionable foray into getting consumers to overspend on things they don’t need or can’t afford. For the proponents, BNPL represents a far better alternative to credit cards, which often feature costly APRs to access the credit needed to make purchases. Realistically, the truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle of these two sentiments, but what does it mean to your financial institution’s payment strategy.

For starters, I will disclose that I have made a few snap purchases over the past 18 months leveraging BNPL provider offers during the checkout process. The offer to make installment payments at zero percent was certainly a driving factor in that decision. Contrary to the pessimistic POV mentioned above, I had the money in hand to make both purchases. However, the offer of essentially a zero percent loan for 24 months (so long as you make your equal installment payments) was an offer I am just not wired to say no to. The experience on both purchases has been amazing, and the installment payments for one of the items continues on its monthly cadence with a nice text reminder that the next installment payment is about to be made. 

So what’s the big deal? Well, for starters, BNPL offerings are moving up into the checkout stream, as mentioned above. The services themselves are being adopted by a large number of retailers that are looking to take advantage of pent-up demand for purchasing. By offering the BNPL option, they give consumers the choice and convenience with an instant credit offering. In the past, only the largest box stores and high-end retailers would offer this in the form of “store credit cards”. The introductory rate on those offers were, in essence, BNPL type installment offerings. However, the penalty for missing a payment or being late was the same as the standard card offerings or even higher APRs (typically between 20-30%). BNPL has found a nice niche with consumers, and the valuations of the space are eye-popping, indicating this isn’t going to be a trend that will slow down any time soon. 

So how does BNPL fit into your payments strategy? As we’ve discussed in our transformation discussions, getting your infrastructure ready to handle new payment types or use cases is a key step in the journey. BNPL is rapidly changing the payment space, taking a POS purchase and injecting a new option to do installment payments right at checkout. With access to new payment types and rails, new ways of conducting commerce will continue to become available. They will likely “disrupt” payment experiences that are dominated by a single payment option today (e.g., any credit/debit experiences that feature high fees/penalties). The key to a successful payments strategy is to be in a position where you can adapt to the market dynamics at play and have systems that will easily connect to or extend to the new market offerings. Making it easy to link your consumer’s account to their BNPL vendor of choice is a great example— your institution remains the primary account for the consumer while enabling them to transact how they want, where they want. This journey is just starting. What is your strategy going to be?  

Read Digital Transformation – Your Guidebook Has Arrived for the phases of a successful digital transformation journey. 


Today’s legacy and siloed banking technology infrastructure limit financial institutions’ ability to rapidly innovate. It’s time to look at money movement in a new way. Alacriti’s Orbipay Unified Money Movement Services does just that. Whether it’s real-time paymentsdigital disbursements, or bill pay, our cloud-based platform enables banks and credit unions to quickly and seamlessly deliver modern digital payments and money movement experiences. To speak to an Alacriti payments expert, please call us at (908) 791-2916 or email info@alacriti.com.