The other day, I forgot to take care of the electric bill on the due date. I came home from work and saw the statement on the kitchen table so I would be sure not to forget it. Fortunately, the company that handles my electricity must have been feeling a rare moment to generosity. Good thing too because otherwise, I’d have to write this blog post on paper by candlelight.
Since my electric company allows me to make a utility payment by phone, I was able to follow the prompts, authorize the payment, and get a confirmation number. A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. I’d likely have to spend my next day’s lunch break at a payment drop-off center. That’s because at this point, sending a payment in the mail would likely be out of the question.
Accept payments by phone and make life easier for your customers.
Your customers don’t have to buy stamps or wait in line to pay their utility bill. Utility payments are processed within minutes and your customers can check their balances to be sure their accounts are up to date.
A secure Pay by Phone solution allows customers to pay their bills automatically, without needing assistance from a live agent. Customers can call a toll-free number, enter their account information, check their balance, and make a payment. Payments are processed immediately, even after business hours or on weekends. Not only will your customers be happier with faster processing, they may find it more convenient to pay in the first place, and as a result the amount of late payments will be reduced.
Benefit Your Utility Customers, Benefit Your Utility Company
Some customers will swear by using checks, maybe some prefer to pay online. When you offer multiple options, you’ll be able to accommodate customers and your company. Customers will be happy to have a system that accepts their preferred method of payment. Accepting credit card information, or bank routing numbers, an over the phone utility payment processing solution will increase the awareness of energy usage, and billing rate. Using our system and processing, you are able to get your payments processed faster and create a cashflow that goes directly into your company’s account. No more waiting while checks clear.
Simplify Dispute Management.
With an over the phone utility payment solution, companies are to streamline payment processing and to streamline vendor dispute management. If a customer has an issue with their billing history, it’s simple to look up via an online platform that shows when the caller called in, when the transaction took place and the amount paid.
A great Pay By Phone solution will offer several connection options:
Inbound IVR – The customer calls a toll-free number, enters their account information, and makes a payment. They are given a confirmation number and can be transferred to a live attendant if necessary.
Outbound IVR – The customer receives a text or call reminding them of an upcoming payment or one that is past due. They can then make an immediate payment and have the option to connect to a live agent.
Click-to-Pay – If a company’s website offers a click-to-pay option, the customer can enter their phone number and receive an automated call that can tell them their balance.
Your Utility Payment Solution Needs to be Secure
PayIT is our IVR payment solution that allows your customers to be able to make payments by phone without risking their personal information. IVR Technology Group dedicates itself to protecting your customer’s data. That’s why we built our phone payment solution, PayIT, with data security in mind. Our company is PCI Level 1 Compliant, the highest level of security compliance that a service provider can receive.
An Over The Phone Utility Payment Solution Is Key To Accelerating Your Accounts Receivable
Is your business PCI compliant or complacent? While it’s true that data breaches happen regularly to larger businesses, the impact on SMBs can be worse than you’d think. Worse yet, a business could be suffering a data breach and not even know it.
Small Businesses and Security
Basically, if your business accepts credit cards it should be PCI Compliant. True, SMBs don’t have the same amount of capital as their larger counterparts. Yet, the impact of a data breach can have large implications. Trustwave reports that SMBs make up 90% of the data breaches that impact businesses. Malicious hackers specifically target SMBs. More likely than not, it’s because SMBs are more likely to have weaker security measures in place.
Credit card theft costs small businesses big time. at least $20,000. According to Verizon’s 2015 PCI Compliance Report, 69% of customers would not conduct business with a company that’s been subject to a data breach. To make matters worse, small businesses aren’t even aware that data has been stolen until it’s too late.
Usually, when a credit institution sees a rising trend in breaches they trace it back to a single source and notify the proper authorities. More to the point, running a PR campaign and ramping up security is business as usual for larger business chains. Unfortunately, should a small business be subject to a data breach, it would be subject to a security audit. If an SMB was subject to a breach, and it was discovered they weren’t following PCI Compliance regulations, they could be fined up to $50,000.
What is PCI DSS?
PCI DSS is an acronym for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The purpose, to provide the rules and regulations that keep card data safe from breaches. These rules and regulations were put together by five major card brands, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and JCB. Together, they form the PCI Security Standards Council.
What’s The Worse That Could Happen?
Maintaining PCI compliance is vital for the survival of all merchants who process card payments. First and foremost is the financial penalties that can be accrued. Fines levied by banks and credit card institutions can range as high as $500,000. This is because banks will impose fines based on their need to forensic research. may fine based on forensic research they must perform to remediate noncompliance.
If a company was the subject of a breach and did not maintain PCI compliance, credit card companies may levy fines. Furthermore, they may not allow a company to use their cards to accept payments.
Worse of all, studies have shown that 65% of customers are unlikely to do business with a company that experienced a security breach. This is because the customers must now check their banks or credit card companies to be sure that they weren’t affected. This can be a huge issue with regards to trust. Losing the trust of your customers can be quite costly.
IVR Technology built our phone payment solution, PayIT, with data security in mind. PayIT allows convenient payments, without compromising security. Our mobile payment solution is PCI Level 1 Compliant. More specifically, this is the highest level of security compliance that a service provider can receive.
When it comes to payment solutions, your company has many options to accept payment. However, some options are much riskier than others. When it comes to accepting payments, your company should offer a solution that adheres to PCI DSS requirements. According to Verizon’s 2015 PCI Compliance Report, 80% of all businesses could not pass a PCI compliance checklist.
The report also stated that 69% of customers would not conduct business with a company that’s been subject to a data breach. Does your business store, process, or transmit cardholder data? Then your company needs to keep that information from falling into the wrong hands. Following 12 practices of the PCI compliance checklist can help to keep to customer’s data safe.
Requirement 1: To protect cardholder data – install & maintain firewall configuration. A firewall acts as a filter between a business’s network and the rest of the Internet. This firewall would separate cardholder information from the rest of your network. PCI DSS standards require that firewalls and network routers are regularly tested every six months.
Requirement 2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters. Finding a default password is easy. To illustrate, it’s just a matter of looking up the brand-name of the item online and searching for the default password. To keep entities from unauthorized access to data, PCI-DSS standards require the immediate changing of passwords.
Protect Cardholder Data
Requirement 3: Stored cardholder data must be protected. PCI DSS requires stored cardholder data to adhere to the standards of protection at all levels. This would cover how cardholder data is documented is protected, as well as how it is encrypted. This would include data encryption, masking, hashing, and truncation.
Requirement 4:Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks Public networks are not remotely secure and can be susceptible to hacking. Only networks that implement strong cryptography and security protocols should transfer cardholder data. Subsequently, wireless networks that transmit cardholder data must also protect the transmission of this information with strong encryption methods
Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
Requirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs This requires the deployment of anti-virus software on computers that would access the network. This software must be capable of protecting computers from viruses, and malware, as well and detecting and removing all known types of malicious software.
Requirement 6:Develop and maintain secure systems and applications Regularly update anti-virus software. This prevents data malicious individuals or software compromising data.
Requirement 7: Limit access to system component and cardholder data to only those individuals whose job requires such access The fewer people that have access to card data, the more likely that it will adhere to PCI DSS standards. To put it another way, cardholder data is a valuable asset. Therefore PCI DSS protocol works to prevent unauthorized access.
Requirement 8:Assign a unique ID Before all network users can access the system, they must log into it with an assigned unique ID.This helps to record when a user accesses cardholder information.
Requirement 9:Restrict physical access to cardholder data To protect the storage of cardholder data unauthorized personnel, and visitors, should not be able to access the systems or data where it is stored. Furthermore, upon termination, all keys and access cards should be returned or disabled.
Regularly Monitor and Test Network
Requirement 10:Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
When an authorized user accesses the system, log and track all actions. This creates a log of access times. These logs should be reviewed daily and audits retained for at least a year.
Requirement 11:Regularly test security systems and processes Test the system regularly to assure PCI DSS compliant security protocols are in place.Run network vulnerability scans on a quarterly basis. Upgraded or modified machines, on the system, are also subject to a test.
Maintain an Information Security Policy
Requirement 12:Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel Establish a security policy that adheres to PCI compliance. Then, communicate this policy to all personnel. This is regardless whether they are authorized to have access to cardholder information or not. Review and update this policy on a regular basis.
Firewalls and access cards are a great investment for your company, yet they are only as good as your security team. Educate and test employees on proper protocol. Regular software updates will also keep data safe.
Healthcare, in the United States, is expected to be a $5 trillion industry within the next five years.
This could be due, in part, to emerging medical technology and the ability for patients to have insurance to afford them. However, a big roadblock is the way in which payments are accepted today. Many customers still pay by check, even though both the customer and patient would prefer not to. IVR Payment Processing could be just what the doctor ordered.
Collections a Primary Concern
53% of health care providers said main concern was related to patient collections. This was either due to the patient’s responsibility for payments, how long the payment took to process, and debt due to patient collections.
Payments Take a Long Time
In a study about trends in healthcare payments, healthcare providers noticed 74% of patients were making regular payments. This was likely due to the popularity of high-deductible health plans. However, 70% of providers report that it takes one month or longer to collect from a patient.
Checks Aren’t Popular
One of the findings of the report noted an interesting paradox. 96% of patients said they still pay a portion of their providers using a check. However, only 14% of providers prefer that method of payment. Why is that?
Providers Want Fast Payments
It turns out 84% of providers want payments sent to them immediately. They prefer payments that both adheres to the standards of HIPAA compliance, and directly transfers funds to their account. This is known as an ERA/EFT.
Customers Want To Make Mobile Payments
64% of consumers are interested in a mobile payment solution to make a healthcare payment. This is great for both the provider and the patient if it has security measures like tokenization.
Customers Want an IVR Payment Solution
A study by Zendesk provided further insight as to why an IVR Payment Solution works best for customers. They would prefer not to speak to a live agent. In fact, 53% of customers think it’s important for them to be able to solve problems themselves. This goes up to 60% for millennial customers. An IVR payment solution allows this.
A 2014 Consumers Union report says that inefficient payment processing and antiquated paper-based billing hurt medical practices. It’s almost like paper checks are an albatross around the neck of the medical industry. It doesn’t have to be.
No matter if it’s home and property, life, automobile, or health insurance. When it comes to mobile payments, your agency should provide your policyholders with the best customer experience possible.
Speed of Payments is Important to Customers
According to J.D. Power customers care about how they pay their insurance. The top reason that a customer goes to a website is to pay their bill. However, that number continues to drop each year. 26% of customers value how quickly they can make a payment. Navigating a website can be difficult, particularly on a mobile device.
Across all age groups, 57% of insurance customers own a smartphone.
They also discovered that 81% the participants surveyed, between the ages of 18-50 have paid their bills using a mobile device. More than half of participants that make regular mobile payments believe them to be faster compared to making a payment online. By using an IVR Payment Solution System like PayIT, insurance companies can:
Allow customer service representatives to answer direct insurance inquiries and not have to worry about being on the phone with a customer to process a payment
Send Bill reminders: For example, you can call and remind customers that their loan payment is overdue.
Customer notification: Insurance companies can use an IVR solution to notify customers of a claim status or pay-out.
Take customer service to another level by combining advanced speech-recognition and sophisticated call routing, insurance companies can increase call automation rates and your customer’s overall experience.
Reduce Late Payments with Text Messages
According to a study by Citi, 61% of people make a late payment because they simply forgot about it. If your agency encourages your customers to go paperless, why not go the extra step and send a quick reminder? Policyholders could receive a text notification that a payment is due. In turn, this will reduce the likelihood of a late payment, particularly among younger customers.
Forget Facebook or Snapchat, text messaging is one of the most popular applications on a mobile device. In fact, Americans under the age of 45 send and receive roughly 85 text messages per day.
Reading a text is up to 10 times faster than a phone call.
Some insurance companies try to improve their chances by building a mobile app. However, this isn’t a viable solution to receive mobile payments. Customers rarely use an app more than once, and if it takes up space it will get deleted. J.D. Power cited that most customers will delete their insurance company’s app was because it was too slow.
Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power noted that insurance apps are not viable. “Although apps have been slower to gain popularity in the insurance industry among consumers,” Monet stated, “Once they do, customers’ expectations are likely to be high based on their experiences in other industries such as banking.”
Policy Payments on Time
PayIT is an IVR payment solution that is faster, easier to use, and built with security in mind. IVR Technology Group is PCI Level 1 Compliant. Our system encrypts information to process payments securely. Therefore, your customers don’t have to worry about compromising private information when making a regular payment. Payment processing and verification is immediate and ensures policyholders that coverage is maintained. Imagine:
Ability to Integrate into your current phone system or toll-free number
Property management is proving to be a profitable investment with over 42 million households now renting. However, one of the major hurdles that come with managing a property is getting paid on time. By accepting rent payments over the phone, your property will differentiate itself from the competition, improve cash flow and enhance resident reviews.
The Problem: Landlords have been accepting paying rent with paper checks for decades, and believe that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, it is. According to The Federal Reserve Payments Study 2016, the amount of checks that people have written has dropped by 40% since 2000 and it’s highly unlikely that number will ever go up. Checks floating on a desk put a dent in your cash flow and increases fraud risk.
The Solution: The study also shows that non-cash payments, including mobile payments, has had a 650% increase since 2000. PayIT is a quick and easy over the phone solution for tenants to pay rent.
2. Limited Office Hours
The Problem: Tenants can only pay rent when the leasing office is open. If your leasing office is only open from 9-5 this can be problematic for tenants that also keep this schedule.
The solution: PayIT allows rent payments to be accepted 24/7; from anywhere and without a live agent.
3. Drop Boxes
The Problem: Offering an after-hours drop box is a terrible solution to the problem. Checks have a lot of personal information on them, and identity thieves will seek them out. If checks are stolen, it hurts both your tenant and your business.
The Solution: PayIT meets PCI DSS Standards and is built with security in mind. Tenants don’t have to worry about compromising their identity, banking, or credit card information.
4. Grace Periods
The Problem: Even responsible renters will pay on the first of the month, provided your office is open. Others will be more likely to pay within an established 3-5 day grace period.
The Solution: Instead of providing a grace period, buckle down on your tenants due dates and look into an over the phone payment system where tenants can verify rent payments within minutes.
5. Turn Around Time
The Problem: Your staff will likely need to dedicate all resources to collecting payments. Checks can take 2-3 days to process. That’s time when your business doesn’t have the money it needs.
The Solution: With PayIT, there is no need to run to the bank. You can check your account info & balance in real time.
Investing in PayIT – A Mobile Payment Solution
PayIT is a great investment for property managers. Tenants love not having to search for a checkbook or worry when their rent payments will clear. Keep in mind, if you want to notify tenants via text message, e-mail or a call when their payment is due, an outbound notification system will always come in handy!
The way in which customers pay for goods and services has changed a lot in the last ten years. Paper checks have all but disappeared from point-of-sale situations. However, businesses still rely on them so that customers can pay the bills. Your business should adapt with the times. When it comes to accepting payments, electronic check processing is faster, efficient, and more reliable. IVR payment solutions make this all possible.
In the latest Federal Reserve Payments Study, 46% of all checks paid in the United States were consumer-to-business. Compared to the rest of the world, this is a bit baffling. The UK plans to have checks phased out by 2018. Throughout much of Europe, checks have almost completely vanished in favor of electronic payments.
If fewer people using the paper check per year isn’t enough, maybe your business should listen to the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA). NACHA is the entity responsible for processing paper checks, and they recommend against using paper checks. A representative released this statement to Fusion online magazine, “The most efficient way for consumers to safeguard bank account numbers is to stop using paper checks. Since money transferred electronically passes through fewer hands than a paper check, electronic payments can be a safer option for consumers.”
Businesses should allow their customers to be able to make payments is a way that is most convenient for them. The question remains. Why do American businesses still cling to checks?
Here are three possible reasons
Accepting change can be difficult. As some customers, and businesses, are more familiar with this method it means that they may still use them.
However: In the latest Federal Reserve Payments Study, 46% of all checks paid in the United States were consumer-to-business. The number of checks people use, on a regular basis, is on a decline of about 9.2% per year.
Sticking to an old-fashioned means of payment creates a load of work that could be handled much quicker using modern technology.
Some businesses like leaving a paper trail when it comes to important documentation.
However: Does your business print every important email? Do you print out various industry blog posts onto sheets of paper and read them like it’s the Sunday Times? Do trees cry out of fear when you print the daily Twitter feed?
Payments don’t need a literal paper trail. When electronic payments process a receipt can be sent to you via text message. Records can be stored online securely so that only you can access them.
3. Perceived Leeway.
Some businesses still write checks because it allows them to have made a payment, without having the money withdrawn from their account right away.
However: While understandable, this is not without its risks. Maybe that payment got to its destination not when you intended. That means that it could still be on its way or have gotten there too quickly. Could you imagine if your customers tried to play a game of chicken like this with their payments?
When a customer sends a check by mail, you have to wait at least two business days for it to arrive. Then you still have to run it to the bank. Of course, some banks may not credit your account until the next business day. What if that check bounced? How would your business be able to stay running?
Electronic payments allow for quick and easy verification. Now it’s not in limbo, or in the wrong hands.
Stop playing the waiting game!
Consumers love companies that have flexible options concerning how they’ll accept payment. One of those options should be paying by phone.
The Federal Reserve Board recently conducted a report Consumers and Mobile Financial Services. The research study reported how people use mobile devices with regards to mobile banking, making mobile payments, and with regards to how consumers felt about the security of these payments. 24% of mobile phone users reported that they had made a mobile payment in the last 12 months. That’s up 7% from the previous report.
The most common mobile payment activities among smartphone users were:
Paying bills through a mobile phone web browser or app – 65%
Online shopping – 42%
Paying for something in a store – 33%
So why would you, or your customers use a slower process when it comes to paying for your services? An IVR payment processing system saves your company time and money. It can take days for your company to get a payment they could have gotten in minutes. Your customers will also see an added benefit. They can call to receive an updated account balance after they make a payment and provide a secured payment by following an automated series of prompts.
When a customer makes a payment in a store, they usually get a receipt that provides proof of purchase. In the case of an IVR payment processing system, a confirmation number can be provided. This confirmation number allows a company to identify the transaction. It can not only be sent at the end of a call but texted to the customer.
In order to receive payments, safely and securely, a business should be PCI Compliant. This means your customer can make a payment from any phone line, or any location, without risking their credit info. To do this, your company should process customer payments using a secure automated system.
Couldn’t call center agents process payments just as efficiently? No, when a customer pays over the phone to an agent it’s still risky. To understand this, Let’s review the PCI DSS scope.
What is PCI scope?
The PCI DSS defines scope as “the PCI DSS security requirements [that] apply to all system components included in or connected to the cardholder data environment.” This environment is comprised of people, processes, and technologies that store, process, or transmit cardholder data or sensitive authentication.
Therefore, if something in your system stores, processes, or transmits cardholder data it’s considered in scope.
In order for a call center agent to process a payment, the customer would need to relay their payment information over the phone. This means that the agent, or anyone within earshot of the caller, could use this information maliciously.
Without a PCI DSS Compliant solution, you’re putting your cardholder’s information at risk. Fortunately, we can help…
PCI DSS Compliant IVR Payments: The Solution is Simple
We can take your call center agents out of PCI scope. IVR Technology secures and encrypts your customer’s information. As this information is not being passed to an agent or being stored on your systems it is secure with our solution, PayIT.
PayIT allows convenient payments, without compromising security. Our mobile payment solution is PCI Level 1 Compliant, the highest level of security compliance that a service provider can receive.
Need a quick and easy way to allow customers to make payments? Mobile payment options may be a viable solution for your business. Payments made by check are a traditional method of payment but don’t offer much in the way of security. Mobile payment solutions allow for more flexibility. They enable consumers to make a bill payment using an online portal, via a phone call, or even a text message. Best of all, mobile payment solutions allow the personal payment information of your customers to be secure.
Does your business still accept checks?
Who among us hasn’t paid a bill at the last minute? Maybe you just noticed it’s the 15th and that an auto loan payment is due today. Is having to rush home, get a check, and hope the post office will be open the best method to make a payment?
For companies that accept payments by check Here’re a few questions to ponder:
If a payment is postmarked with the payment due date but arrived afterward is it considered late?
If your customer can prove that they make a payment in good faith but somebody stole their check from the mailbox, would they still incur a penalty?
Do you have a dedicated staff member for processing checks? Do they have other projects that would provide greater benefit to your company?
Another factor that would need to be taken into consideration would be the age of users that would most likely make mobile payments.
Millennials and Gen-Xers account for a combined total of 72%, whereas 41% of baby boomers are likely not to make a mobile payment. This is likely because 90% of Millenials and 83% of Gen-X are more likely to own a smartphone. When taken into account with Baby Boomers, or older that mean that 7 out of 10 American adults own a smartphone.
Mobile Payment Incentives
Why should your business consider a mobile payment solution? Because when a customer can make a payment over the phone, processing that payment can take minutes rather than days. At IVR Technology we offer solutions that allow customers to pay over the phone, or even with a text message. Both are of particular interest to your customers, as one of the main reasons customers want to make a mobile payment is to avoid paying an overdraft or check-cashing fee.
Paying by text message is also a great option as customers can receive a receipt and verification of payment right away. It’s far better than searching for a pen so you can write down a 15 digit number. Even if you manage to write it all down, good luck remembering what that sequence is for.
Your company can get started with PayIT, without having to install any additional hardware or software. It also allows your staff to shift their focus to needs that can better suit your customers, rather than just addressing their payment.
While a traditional form of payment, checks were never really all that reliable. Payments can be delayed, funds may be insufficient, and even worse can happen. Online payments aren’t much better. In order to bring customers the convenience of paying anywhere, they need to sacrifice their security. For this Halloween, considering implementing an IVR payment solution to accept payments. Otherwise, things can get a little terrifying.
Are checks really that scary?
Submitted for your approval, Queen resident Brian Halbreich writes a check to his credit card company in order to make a payment on his account. He drops off his payment into a local mailbox but soon enough he finds out that the credit card never got his payment.
His check made a wrong turn into the hands of an identity thief.
Fortunately, Brian Halbreich was lucky. He was about to go through his banking records he discovered that his check had been altered and made out to “Nico Youngblood.” He was about to contact his bank to and explain the situation quickly. Not a lot of people will bother to check.
This story took place on October 8th. Police have warned residents to be on the lookout for a group of thieves that are fishing out envelopes out of mailboxes. The thieves themselves are targeting bill payments, which would contain checks. With a little acetone, a thief can alter the recipient or the amount. They then are about to cash the check right away to avoid detection.
“We are aware of these issues and have arrested eight (8) individuals for this crime in the Jackson Heights area,” a U.S. Postal Inspection Service spokesperson said in a statement. “We continue to investigate criminal acts against the U.S. Mail, while implementing additional innovative methods to safeguard the mail.”
However, Brian Halbrieich is not alone. The NYPD said several more cases were reported in the Bronx. Earlier his month in East Harlem, NY thieves managed to get their hands on over $56,000 worth of checks. Worse yet, many of these checks were supposed to go towards paying the rent. Now these victims risk eviction for simply trying to pay their rent.
Meanwhile, Mr. Halbreich said he’ll make payments online from now on.
In order to make a payment, a customer would need to be a little tech savvy to be truly secure. The customer would need to make sure to update their internet browser to the latest version. Installing a spyware and malware program would also help to protect them a bit more. However, in order to be truly secure, they would need to only make payments from that very secure home computer.
Paying bills online isn’t as secure as one would think. While they could do it while getting a cup of coffee from their local shop, it’s not a good idea. Public Wi-Fi networks leave people ripe for the picking when it comes to stealing information.
Unless they are tech savvy, there is a good chance that they could be affected.
IVR Phone Payments Keep Your Customers Data Safe
With an IVR phone payment solution, customer payments are safe. Payments can be safely made in the middle of a coffee shop, or anywhere else. A customer doesn’t need to be a tech genius in order to use it. Making a payment can be as easy as making a phone call, or even sending a text.
Is it safe?
Yes. Our solution, PayIT, allow convenient payments, without compromising security. We built our phone payment solution, PayIT, with data security in mind. Our company is PCI Level 1 Compliant, the highest level of security compliance that a service provider can receive.