Strategy With Members: Boosting Bill Pay Usage

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Members here show a "strong" penchant for home banking, with 50% actively logging-on-leaving University of Wisconsin Credit Union to figure out why only 5% are taking advantage of bill pay.

According to Eric Bangerter, UWCU's director of Internet Services, the best guess is that bill pay set-up may seem like too much trouble to most of UWCU's 100,000 members. Although online bills can be paid securely with just one click and no postage, the set-up process requires users to enter account numbers, contact information and addresses for most billers.

"People who aren't tech-savvy want to see the bill online and then authorize and submit the payment," said Bangerter. "They don't want to find their way through they system reentering data."

Indeed, many members don't use bill pay because they aren't familiar with the features and benefits, according to Callahan & Associates survey of more than 25,000 CU members nationwide.

"The secret to bill pay adoption is actually finding the members it makes sense for and then spending the time to show them how to do it and why it's worth it," Bangerter said.

The $750-million CU is targeting members who open accounts or transfer funds at the homebanking site as being the most likely to also pay bills electronically.

Bangerter would like to get 50% of the members who use the homebanking site transactionally also using bill pay within the next year.

UWCU provides bill pay via Princeton eCom's PayAnyone, part of the Corillian Corp. Consumer Banking suite.

Perfecting The Experience

In some ways, UWCU has perfected the bill pay user experience. "The members who use bill pay have rock-solid confidence about paying through our system," Bangerter said.

Each of the 5,000 UWCU bill payers makes an average of at least five payments per month, Bangerter added. UWCU processes an average of 30,000 payments per month in total, and the number of payments is growing up to 10 % per month, he said. Members seldom complain about payment errors, he continued. About one error is reported for every million payments at UWCU, he said. "Our claims rate is very, very low. Before we switched to Princeton eCom, our staff used to spend a vast part of their day to resolve payments claims."

PayAnyone features Real-Time Digital Scanline, which instantly detects errors when the member pays the bill, guaranteeing a 99.9% accuracy rate, said Ron Averett, president of Princeton eCom.

"The end-result for UWCU is fewer back-end expenses and higher member confidence," he added.

In addition, UWCU has offered bill pay free to members since it launched PayAnyone in 2001, which "allows us to get members started more easily," said Bangerter.

Giving away bill pay is an affordable proposition for UWCU, he said. The CU pays Princeton eCom for each transaction, instead of for each user. Bill pay providers that charge on a per-user basis end up charging credit unions for 15 payments per user whether or not the user pays any bills, said Averett.

About 100 CUs nationwide use PayAnyone.

CUJ Resources

For additional information on this story:

* University of Wisconsin CU at www.uwcu.org

* Princeton eCom at www.princetonecom.com

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