According to a study of 1,000 billers released today by NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association, Direct Payment via ACH is the leading method consumers use to pay their bills.
The study found that the great majority of billers - more than three-quarters of those that offer electronic payment options - offer Direct Payment via ACH, and now, almost 50 percent of consumer bills are paid through this method. Forty-two percent of consumer bills are still paid through the mail, and 11 percent are paid with credit/debit cards.
The findings also show that billers prefer receiving ACH payments over cards 48 percent to 21 percent. Specifically, billers prefer recurring ACH payments, citing this option as the most favorable payment method. Consumers, on the other hand, prefer one-time ACH payments for bill pay. Of the 47 percent of consumer bills paid via Direct Payment, 25 percent are one-time ACH payments, 11 percent are recurring ACH payments, and another 11 percent are ACH payments originated by biller service providers.
"Direct Payment via ACH provides the control, security, and simplicity that consumers are looking for when paying their bills," said Janet O. Estep, NACHA president and CEO. "Additionally, for billers, Direct Payment via ACH transactions provide costs savings, improve operating efficiencies, and make a positive impact on the environment. There are still many checks being mailed today, so there is a significant opportunity to increase Direct Payment adoption, and during May - Direct Deposit and Direct Payment via ACH Month - we direct both billers and consumers to the available resources and proven practices expanding Direct Payment usage."
For example, the NACHA study found that the most successful billers with highest rates of Direct Payment adoption have a defined budget for promoting ACH, and have had success in increasing Direct Payment coupled with paper statement suppression campaigns. These billers also actively communicate with customers about Direct Payment options during service onboarding. The billers report that faster, easier and convenience related messages for Direct Payment work well, and that green messmessaging continues to have positive results.
Financial institutions have an important role as well for expanding Direct Payment. Billers in the study report positive results from cross pollination efforts, where billers and banks combine marketing efforts. Furthermore, the majority of billers (62 percent) get information about Direct Payment from their financial institutions, indicating that financial institutions are a vital biller partner in this endeavor.
Billers should also evaluate how NACHA opt-in programs can support their goals for Direct Payment. These include:
EBIDS, which allows businesses to deliver eBills to online banking accounts for presentment to consumers and to receive authorized credit payments through the ACH Network
QR Bill™, which identifies an open standard for using QR codes to support mobile bill payment and eBill enrollment.
Other resources for Direct Payment include electronicpayments.org, which provides financial institutions, businesses, and consumers with information, tools, and resources to learn, adopt and promote ACH payments. NACHA's ACH Messaging site, launched in early 2012, also contains a variety of tools and resources to help drive industry adoption and use of consistent messaging, terminology, and phrasing to explain the attributes and benefits of the ACH Network and ACH payments. The materials on the site, such as customer letters and emails, website banners and graphics, help organizations describe ACH payments with terminology that both consumers and businesses will better understand.
"Tools, resources, and initiatives have begun to help address the challenges billers face in growing ACH payments," said Estep. "During the month of May, billers should take the opportunity to visit electronicpayments.org or direct.nacha.org and make use of the educational and promotional materials available on the sites, and learn more about the innovative programs supporting electronic bill payments that leverage the ACH Network."