The terms and acronyms for electronic bill presentment and payment platforms have evolved into a wild array of names. Where once simply “eBilling” dominated, that morphed into EBPP (Electronic Billing Presentment & Payment), and then Instant Payment Networks, with Subscription Lifecycle Management, Revenue Control Management, and sometimes merely SaaS Billing. No matter what you’re calling yourselves, if you’re presenting bills and invoices, you should be thinking about omnichannel payment methods for your customers’ customers.
Currently, omnichannel payment methods beyond paper checks, bank transfers, or your website portal include the following:
Payments By Phone
Payments by phone remain a significant alternative channel for paying bills. Many billing platform customers are seeing up to 30% of payments coming over the phone, depending on the industry. Typically, a majority of these payments are customers who are either late or about to be late, where a phone payment option is a huge benefit.
Payments By Text/SMS
Offering text-based payments are an increasingly common request we see from e-billing platforms. Typically text messaging is used to alert customers that a bill is due, then ask them if they would like to pay now. More and more consumers are preferring text messaging from the companies they deal with, so this is an overall excellent CX strategy.
Payments By Social Messaging
Though less common than other channels, payments through social channels such as Facebook Messenger is “on the radar” of many companies. For example, we recently worked with a home builder who fosters strong social relationships with residents in their homeowner’s co-ops. Facilitating payments of dues and other fees through Facebook Messanger was part of their homeowner engagement efforts.
Omnichannel Payments And PCI Compliance
Omnichannel payments present a new set of challenges for PCI DSS compliance. While you, an electronic billing platform, should be PCI compliant, your customers’ deployment may not be. It’s essential to coach your customers on the steps they need to take to be compliant.
PCI Compliance & Payments By Phone
The best way to ensure adherence to PCI controls and requirements is to accept phone payments through an automated IVR payment application. Our Compass Payments Suite removes the live agent from the phone payment process and is available for your customers’ customers 24x7x365.
Without an automated IVR, PCI compliance for phone payments becomes risky and complicated. The staff who accept phone payments must do so while at a “sterile” station. A sterile station means no papers, no books, no pens, no reading material, no web browsing, and personal devices. In a call center situation, this is a horrible working environment for agents who accept payments. For smaller customers with a “few people in accounting” who are accepting phone payments, sterile stations are highly unlikely.
Make sure you offer your customers maximum PCI mitigation by including an automated IVR payment application as part of your electronic billing platform.
PCI Compliance & Payments By Text
There’s no safe way to accept cardholder data through text messaging. Facilitating payments by text/SMS is typically for your customers who have a known relationship, with text messaging permission, with their customers. First, your customer must confirm their customer’s identity by at least two factors (ex. phone number and last four digits of social security number). Next, they prompt their customer to either use a saved payment method or click a secure link to enter a new payment method.
PCI Compliance & Payments By Social Messaging
While messaging apps such as Facebook Messanger exist in a secure socket (HTTPS), we know that social platforms are not worthy of our complete trust. So we recommend the same process as accepting payments by text.
Your Customers’ Customers Are Demanding Omnichannel
Depending on which study you reference from any given list of authoritative research and consumer trend reporting firm, more than 70% of all consumers expect omnichannel options when contacting the companies they frequent. Making a payment is the most frequent way the customers of your customers make contact. Make sure you’re helping your customers be relevant by including omnichannel payment methods in your platform.