The biggest sound to come out of the bank bill pay market in the coming months will be that of windows slamming shut.
Both banks and online payment firms are introducing new products that migrate more function and information to the main web banking or landing page-shutting down on the amount of navigation to secondary windows needed for bill presentment, information and payments.
"Anything that you put in front of a user in which they don't have to migrate somewhere else will get used more often," says Pete Hopkins, general manager of the Internet solutions division for Jack Henry, which plans to upgrade its electronic billpay offering in the coming months to enable pending bills to be viewed and executed directly on the Web banking landing page. It's part of a larger project that will also increase bank-to-bank transfers and other landing page capabilities.
The initiatives are designed to give bill pay a starring role in a PFM-inspired Web strategy that makes the landing page a 'single stop'-including direct payments, planning, transfers and deposits
"The landing page concept is to show all bills coming due, make them easy to track based on when you're paying bills, and ensure the user isn't flipping back and forth [from bill pay to Web banking] on the PC to see what their balance is," says Jeff Lewis, an svp at FIS. The vendor is introducing a new bill pay product that uses task-oriented configurable modules to help consumers manage bill payment, such as a "bill rack" that organizes all bills based on due dates; a landing page with a central location that facilitates payments to existing and new payees; a balance worksheet; and a "payment activity" module.
FIS' rival Fiserv has leveraged Ajax (a Web development technique that creates interactive apps that can obtain data without interfering with an existing page) as part of a recent upgrade that allows users to make payments without having to navigate away from the Web banking page.
"The banks that will win are those who present a form in which the consumer has more control," says Lani Hayward, evp of creative strategies for Umpqua Bank, which in April will introduce a "one page view" that includes balances for all accounts, a view into recent activity, scheduled payments and transfers, bills and alerts; email messages from the institution and mobile banking. Umpqua will handle the rollout to consumers, while Fiserv will service the back end.
Another bank, Citigroup, would not divulge specific plans, but Liza Landsman, managing director for Internet and mobile for North American consumers, says the "one-stop" model also has ramifications for mobile financial services. "The design constraints on mobile are different than the Web," Landsman says. "If every time you do something new, you have to load a new page, it's difficult form a consumer adoption perspective."