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    4 Things Consumers Expect from a Payments System

    Consumers are empowered to do almost everything themselves online or via mobile—from comparing prices to checking in at the airport. Where there’s a will, consumers want a way, and that includes procuring their own customer service in the fastest, most convenient way possible. Here are a few things your financial institution can do to ensure you are meeting today’s consumer preferences and needs.

    1. Intuitive interface and quick ability to pay

    Time is of the essence to consumers. They want to be able to do things, like make loan payments, as quickly and easily as possible. One potentially critical strategy to meet consumer expectations is to implement real-time payment capabilities. Financial institutions have a solid customer base, and by forming direct connections and introducing convenient options, there is the potential to satisfy a big customer need in their daily lives, and solidify their loyalty. By utilizing a single platform to handle payments through self-service and internal operations, as well as processing ACH and card transactions in the same environment, you can make it easier for consumers and your team to effectively manage convenient payments. This also requires making it easier and faster to pay via a simplified and intuitive transactional structure that breaks up the payment processes into simplified steps a consumer can easily follow.

    2. Trust in the technology and partnership through financial institutions

    With technology evolving at a rapid pace, financial institutions have the pressure of keeping up-to-speed with FinTech and new technology firms continuously coming up with novel ideas. But all is not lost for financial institutions. They have a huge asset in the established trust of their customer base. These customers have a comfort level in doing transactions with their financial institutions that does not exist with start-up technology firm. When offering new technology, financial institutions must have enough of their account holders' trust to successfully promote and brand the technology. In turn, the financial institution builds a solid reputation with their borrowers that they can offer innovative technology.

    The technology that financial institutions promote should have  a variety of payment options, robust and secure systems integration options, and provide a pleasing experience. Creating a strong payments brand, and demonstrating that your technology can be trusted by providing recorded demonstrations, and simple to understand instructions on a dedicated "ways you can pay page," can go a long way in cultivating trust and growth through your desired payments.

    3. Integrated payment options and reasonable costs

    More and more, consumers are demanding a broader choice of payment options, expecting to be able to make payments anytime, anywhere, using any method. Consumers are becoming more fickle and less loyal in their choice of providers, and financial institutions must adapt or succumb to growing competition.

    Today, consumers make purchasing decisions using all available channel, and they're extending their omni-channel preferences to financial institutions as well. As a result of experiences in other industries, consumers expect simple transactions and “omni-commerce,” the integration and consistency of payments across channels and devices, to create a seamless, superior customer experience.

    A critical component of a successful multi-channel payments strategy, is the effective balancing of costs your organization incurs for payment operations and the fees you may assess to your account holders. It is no secret zero, or smaller, fees are always appreciated by your account holders.  When it comes to offering flexible payment options, having a strong plan to cover your operational costs and drive consumer adoption is critical.  The goal is to provide the most convenience without your account holders, or yourselves, suffering from sticker-shock for taking a payment.  Thinking about payments as part of your overall budget and operating costs, can help you reduce your operational costs on this front without upsetting account holders.

    This demand for broader choice in payments by consumers in an integrated and consistent manner is in large part due to the very high growth in electronic payments of all types, across all markets. From the growth of payment cards for low-value, day-to-day use, the development of online and now mobile commerce channels, to the growing rates of financial inclusion in all markets, consumers now have more choice in their payment tools than ever before, and increasingly expect a variety of integrated options. As a result, financial institutions must adapt and offer a growing range of cost-efficient payment tools to their customers to further their growth.

    4. Convenience and preferred payment methods

    Omni-channel consumers expect easy access to information—when they want it, where they want it, and in whatever channel they choose. They hold a high comfort level when using mobile devices as part of a multichannel experience and are using mobile to connect the online and offline worlds. For example, according to the report referenced above, these younger consumers are more likely than average to use coupons received on their phones.

    Although the emerging omni-channel consumer is typically a younger person, that might not always be the case. There are pockets of older consumers—primarily technology-savvy segments—that share the enthusiasm for mobile payments but also have strong cross-channel behaviors. So just because mobile is a preferred method of payment for omni-chanel consumers, convenience is still at the top of their list, and it’s important not to lose sight of other payment channels like online, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), cash (ex: MoneyGram), and customer service representative (CSR)-assisted. 

    Related reading: Serve Indirect Borrowers with Convenient Online Payment Solutions

    With more options than ever, today’s consumers want their banking experience to be fast, easy, and secure, with the latest and greatest technology. By keeping up with consumers needs and the latest technology, financial institutions stand to gain flexibility, improved customer satisfaction, increased payment activity, and improved operational efficiency.

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    Jason O'Brien

    As SVP of Payments for SWBC’s Financial Institution Group, Jason is responsible for developing and launching new products and services that address financial institution needs and provide a myriad of benefits.

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