Even in these troubled economic times, people need to pay their bills. And people need day-to-day essentials, such as utilities and phone service (whether landline or cellular), even in hard times — and, in some cases, more than ever.
Cash flow is more critical than ever, too. Bill payers are caught between making payments so that essential services aren't cut off (and hefty disconnect and reconnect fees applied) and needing to hold on to their money as long as they can by paying on the due date.
Meanwhile, billers are feeling the economic pinch as well, and they need to save money and receive payments on time so they can start putting their money to work as quickly as possible.
The answer to these challenges? Making self-service bill payment readily available.
The billpay kiosk business has been growing steadily for years. But according to industry insiders, it has started gaining even more traction in the marketplace in the last two years, in no small part because of advances in technology and the growing demand for convenience, as well as an economic recession that has caused customers to manage cash flow more closely.
But self-service billpay also helps the silent third party in the billpay equation — the retailers, such as grocery stores, that take bill payments at their customer-service counters or through their cashiers.
The players in the self-service billpay market that have seen recent growth in their businesses include U.S. Payments in Tulsa, Okla.; NCR in Duluth, Ga. and TIO Networks in Burnaby, British Columbia.
In 2011, U.S. Payments became the only in-person bill payment provider for Oklahoma Gas and Electric. This is a huge vote of confidence for the self-service industry.
The additional kiosks installed for OG&E bring the number of PaySite kiosksoperated by U.S. Payments to 450 units in 24 states.
In January 2010, TIO Networks Corp. announced a strategic alliance with Best Buy to roll out self-service billpay and financial-service kiosks to Best Buy stores across the United States. Customers can now make expedited bill payments on their wireless, utility, cable and other accounts through the touchscreen and Internet-enabled kiosks.
Self-service is going global, as well. In August 2011, NCR launched its self-service billpay kiosk solution in the Middle East and Africa region. The solution, which includes hardware, software and managed service, enables consumers to quickly and easily purchase SIM cards, top up pre-paid mobile phones and pay bills by cash, credit or debit card.
Self-service billpay also is gaining ground, some say, because it appeals to younger bill payers who are more comfortable with technology and less comfortable with making a payment to a person.
Even older customers are becoming more accustomed to using self-service terminals for such transactions as buying plane tickets and prepaid phone cards and paying bills.
Billers, especially public utilities, can realize significant savings by offering kiosk billpay rather than building or renting facilities to house their bill-acceptance operations and hiring full-time cashiers.
Self-service billpay offers advantages to billers, customers and retailers. This guide explores the growing popularity of self-service billpay kiosks and offers a detailed look at the benefits they offer to all three parties.