Is your collection agency keeping pace with consumer payment habits?
The use and popularity of online bill payments is growing at a rapid pace. Consumer payments to “biller direct” sites have grown from 30,000,000 households in 2002 to nearly 48,000,000 in 2010. More than 65% of the consumers who reported using online payment tools stated that conducting activities at the biller’s web site allowed them to avoid a phone call to the biller.
Companies can benefit from an online payment site by accelerating cash flow and reducing servicing costs while providing greater ease and convenience for the consumer.
The following Industries have experienced the highest online payment adoption rates:
- Cable/Satellite TV
- Cell Phone
- Major Credit Cards
- Internet Service Providers
- Financial Services (mortgage, auto, personal loans)
- Department Store Credit Cards
With a large consumer base becoming more conditioned to paying online in the first party environment, we should anticipate this trend to increase in the third party debt collection environment as well.
Creating a custom payment portal that is linked and branded with a company’s website and debtor correspondence provides many benefits. Whether the debtor links to the payment site from instructions on the letter or via a link from an existing website, consistent branding will provide the debtor with a higher level of trust and comfort that they are at the “right place” to make their payment transaction.
Another important factor when using online payment technology is that it meets PCI (Payment Card Industry) security standards. When reviewing a potential partner’s PCI standards, it is important to find out what level of security compliance they have attained and if their audit was performed by a qualified QSA (qualified security assessor) or attained through the less reliable “self-assessment.” As with all tools used to communicate with debtors, it is always a good idea to have web site content reviewed by an attorney who is familiar with the regulatory issues facing the ARM industry.
Successful payment portals are designed to create the greatest convenience for the debtor. In addition to the obvious benefits of 24 X 7 access to the payment site, payment technology should allow the user to make a simple one-time payment or to set up an account to make future payments even simpler. Transacted payments are cleared in efficient time frames – real time credit card payment approvals, ACH payments settled by end of day – and are reported directly to the debtor via email receipt.
Just as important as the debtor convenience, make sure that the online payment activities can be easily integrated back into existing technology infrastructure. Payment sites should provide a wide variety of administrator tools so that supervisors can easily monitor payments made on the site, perform credit transactions, make payment adjustments, create payment plans, view pending payments, and a host of other management and reporting activities. In addition to the transaction dashboard, management also will want daily batch data feeds in a variety of formats (CSV, XML, Excel, etc.) to update collection software and post payment activity at the debtor account level.
This technology can easily be implemented using existing credit card merchant account/banking relationships or with a complete turn-key solution. There are several possible solutions that support a large number of discrete merchant accounts (based on client requirements) to facilitate payment processing and directing transaction deposits to the applicable accounts. There clearly is not a “one size fits all” solution in the world of payment portals. Be certain to work with providers to create a solution that fits a company’s unique needs.
There are many options in the market place for online payment solutions. Make sure to consider: ease of use for the debtor, PCI compliance, data security, and how easily the technology integrates with existing systems and processes. As the demographics of our population change and becomes more tech savvy, we can be assured that this will be a preferred medium for making payments. Don’t get left behind!
Mike McDonnell, Vice President of Sales – Eastern Region for DANTOM Systems, Inc., has more than 15 years of business process outsourcing expertise, managing strategic relationships and applications in the Financial Services and Collections Industry. McDonnell’s experience covers both third-party collection and first-party billing applications including traditional letters and statements as well as secure Internet-based presentment and payment applications. He has been an ACA Affiliate member since 1995 and currently serves on the ACA Board of Directors. McDonnell can be reached by email.
Known for its innovation and flawless execution, DANTOM Systems, Inc. is the leading receivables communication provider. DANTOM experts take the time to understand customers’ unique business requirements and tailor a solution to meet their receivables communication needs, including electronic bill presentment, payment portal, online archive, eNotice collection letters as well as dynamic full color digital ouput. The company partners with more than 900 organizations to create high-impact receivables documents while lowering costs – positively impacting their bottom line.