Consumers favor holding on to their money as long as they can, and financial institutions should favor providing them as many options as possible to do just that.
That's a couple of the conclusions of the 2010 "Billing Household Survey," a study of 2,010 household bill payers nationwide conducted by the Marketing Workshop in March for Fiserv Inc.
The survey is representative of the 90.5 million online households in the United States, the researchers said, and found that those paying the bills use multiple methods to get the job done, with nearly 25% of them changing the way they pay from month to month.
Money problems are a big contributor, the survey found, noting that 57% of the 38% who said they were late or missed a bill payment in the past year did so because of cash flow difficulties. The survey also found that online paying at financial institutions has passed auto-debit at financial institution websites, from 36 million households for the former to 35 million for the latter.
Meanwhile, mobile phone bill paying adoption apparently drive the phone method up the most in the past year, by 27%, to 17.4 million households.
Walk-in bill paying increased 16% in the past year, used at least once by 27 million households in 2010, the survey found, and 34% of the respondents said they had used a credit or debit card to make a one-time bill payment that they normally would pay by some other method, even though one-third of them paid a convenience fee.
"Consumers are adjusting their payment behaviors based on financial and personal situations, and what they perceive to be convenient. This clearly demonstrates the need for billers to offer a variety of billing and payment options to meet household needs and expectations," said Jardon Bouska, division president of Biller Solutions for Fiserv in Brookfield, Wis.
The survey also found that consumers are more likely to visit a biller website to pay a bill than to shop or seek out other information.
The full report is at www.fiserv.com/research-papers.htm.