Smarter Bill Payments for a Connected World

Posted by Bethany Frank on 01 Mar 2018

Digital connectivity, emerging technology, and the resulting shifts in consumer behavior are all driving the future of payments. By 2020, consumers around the world are expected to make 726 billion transactions through digital payment channels. What are some of these new channels, and what trends are shaping consumer expectations?

Life, Connected.

Google says it sold “more than one Google Home device every second” since the Google Home Mini began shipping last October. According to a report by Verto Analytics, Amazon’s Alexa saw a 325% increase in unique monthly users in 2017. By 2020, Boston Consulting Group projects the IoT market will reach $267 billion, and the numbers of installed connected devices worldwide is expected to reach almost 31 billion.

Consumers are already using these devices to automate household tasks, search for information, and shop. As the ecosystem of connected devices expands, and thereby the capabilities available through them, businesses need to offer customers a payment experience that makes sense within these new digital contexts.

Speaking Up

Connected devices are changing consumer behavior itself. With smart device adoption on the rise, people are increasingly speaking more and typing less. Mindshare Futures estimates about half of smartphone owners use a voice assistant once a week, and by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

From appliances to cars to hotel check-in counters, highly sophisticated voice recognition engines are being integrated into what seems like every facet of consumer life. Fueled by advances in a subset of machine learning known as Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI-based conversational interfaces are quickly transforming how consumers and businesses interact with each other. Instead of talking to a customer service representative, customers will soon carry out all kinds of tasks simply by asking Alexa or their Google Home in a way that feels natural and intuitive.

The Rise of Artificial (Intelligence) Assistance

Consumers hate a run-around for something that should be easy, and it isn’t just the millennials. Today’s consumers expect assistance immediately, and they aren’t afraid of asking for it from a bot. A 2014 Forrester report showed 58% of consumers preferred assistance via chat rather than over the phone – up from 38% in 2009. And more recently, in 2017, HelpShift reported over 65% of millennials and 55% of consumers overall welcome chatbots in customer service.

Chatbots remove much of the friction typically associated with customer service. They’re set to replace live representatives in nearly every business context as consumers show preference for quicker, more context-relevant interactions. Efficient and engaging communication, 24/7 availability, and zero wait-time make chatbots an attractive alternative to call centers and the like in all kinds of customer service scenarios -- especially bill payments.

Chatbots can help businesses provide the kind of bill payment experience consumers expect in a world of instant service and seamless digital interactions. Rather than waiting on the phone or logging into an online payment portal, customers would simply ask the bot to provide bill details and schedule payments. Customers engage with the bot using their preferred platform (i.e. Facebook Messenger or the Amazon Echo), which means they can pay their bills without ever leaving the digital contexts in which they’re spending time.

The Bottom Line: With technology evolving at such rapid pace, the customer experience matters more than ever. When it’s time to pay a bill, your customers expect a quick and easy process. In an increasingly connected world, that entails engaging customers on the digital platforms they use, offering fast and efficient self-service options, and enabling innovative ways to pay.

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Bethany Frank Senior Marketing Associate Bethany specializes in content and events as part of Alacriti's marketing team. She's a graduate of Rutgers University and has a background in writing, broadcasting, and digital media. Fascinated by the intersection of technology and human nature, Bethany is out to explore what drives consumers in such a fast-paced, digitally connected world.

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