Do you pay your utility bills and credit card bills using your smartphone or do you still prefer queuing at the bank or at the payment center? Would you rather sign checks than swipe the button of a payment app on your mobile device?
Your answers will largely depend on your needs and how you trust technology. The trend is changing and it’s favoring online payment methods.
Barely ten years ago, many people were hesitant about making online bill payments for their recurring bills or for buying goods. However, a significant increase in the online transactions of consumers was noted two years ago.
In the United States, for example, the online payment transactions to biller websites increased from 62% in 2010 to 73% in 2016. In the same six-year period, bank bill payments decreased from 38% to 27%. These figures were based on the data collected by the electronic payments company ACI Worldwide and by the research firm Aite Group.
This trend is not limited to the United States but is a global phenomenon. If you are still stuck in the old “analog” method of payments, here are some reasons that might convince you otherwise.
1. Fast and convenient
You do not need to waste time commuting to the bank or payment center just to wait in a long queue. You simply need to open your payment app or go directly to the billing website and pay your bills. Depending on the electronic method you will use, the money transfer is virtually instantaneous once you click the send button.
You can use credit cards, debit cards, online payment accounts (e.g. PayPal), direct bank transfers or even cryptocurrency as payment method.
Most of these options provide fast transactions that take only a few minutes to do, which include logging in, entering the needed information, and transferring the money.
2. Automatic deductions
You do not even need to open your app because your payments will automatically be deducted from your bank account. You simply need to set it up once by specifying the billers and the recurring amount that you need to pay.
You can also set the amount of deductions based on the exact amount being billed.
3. Security of payments
Online transactions are encrypted and may involve multiple levels of authentication. Hence, they are very difficult to hack.
For instance, your bill payment app needs a password and you can also include a pin or biometric recognition for your phone. The encryption methods are also now very sophisticated, making brute-force hacking very difficult and costly.
Unless your card or mobile device is stolen or you have revealed your password, it is very unlikely that your account will be hacked. If you have added other layers of security like a PIN code or biometrics, your account will be virtually impossible to hack.
4. Easy consolidation of payments
If you are too busy and do not keep tabs on your bills, you might miss paying some of them on time. Consequently, you will be charged with penalties. This usually happens if you are still paying your bills the old-fashioned way.
Online payments allow you to centralize and consolidate your payments. If you are using just one payment gateway like online banking, you can see all the records of your online transactions. You can easily manage your payments even for non-recurring or non-regular payments like online hotel reservations.
5. Merchant options
Aside from paying online merchants and utility companies, ordinary consumers also have the option of easily receiving payments for items or services that they may offer online. You do not necessarily have to upgrade your credit card, debit card or online payment account to receive payments from buyers or clients.
For example, if you are a home-based freelance worker, you can easily receive payments from your clients through your debit card or through Paypal. You can then withdraw the money to your bank account.
However, if you have an online store, you may need to upgrade to a merchant account. Your personal identity will be protected in this manner. Your website can also automatically process large volumes of transactions.
Give digital a try
If you are still using the old-fashioned methods of paying your bills and buying goods, you should try shifting to online methods. You do not need to be a tech wizard to do it.
You only need an online payment account or a debit card and a mobile smartphone. At first, it may feel a little awkward or even intimidating, but it would all be worth it.
Al-moottil P Antony is a C-Suite Executive Support Professional for Zain, a leading mobile and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries.