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Big banks bear close watching for credit unions, and their experience with online bill payment is no exception. A recent survey by Celent Communications of 21 big banks, including 20 of the 50 biggest in the country, found that free bill pay is considered a success, with 81% of the respondents saying it has paid off in retention and 43% citing success in cross-selling. Many of the respondents also are allowing users to overdraw their accounts in a bill pay transaction, creating NSF fee income for the banks. And cost pressures continue to mount, with 81% of the respondents saying they feel pressure to reduce the expenses of bill pay. Also, while core processor switches are a relative rarity (about 5% a year is considered the industry average), a full 33% of the respondents in the Celent survey say they plan to switch bill pay processors in the next year to 18 months, while 19% more say they are evaluating that option. Only 48% said they are happy with their existing arrangements and have no plans to change. Finally, almost all of the respondents say online bill pay has a long way to go, with only 5% considering adoption to have reached mass-market proportions. Here are some of the findings of the Celent report.

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