U.S. consumers pay an average of 9.3 bills per month, according to our recent ACI Speedpay® Pulse. From rent and mortgage to utilities and essential subscription services, these payments impact the most essential aspects of consumers’ lives. Creating the best environment to manage them efficiently and pay for them on a timely basis is essential to promote the well-being of consumers and the business.
However, what is considered the best method of paying bills can vary, especially between generations. For example, while many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers may be accustomed to the status quo of using ACH as their primary payment method, Gen Z and Millennials prefer alternative payment methods such as Zelle, Venmo and PayPal. This is often based on their experiences using non-traditional payment types in their daily lives, their ease of use, and instant transfer of funds. They have a habit of instantly sending money to a friend to cover the lunch bill while they are still at the table, so they have little patience for bill payments which can take days to process. The growing use of alternative payment methods is influencing consumers’ expectations when it comes to paying bills.
As the younger population gains purchasing power and represents a larger percentage of billpayers, meeting their expectations will help billers stay ahead of the curve.
What you need to know about Gen Z and Millennials
Through ACI Speedpay Pulse, we’ve learned a lot about younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials), especially in regards to their bill payment practices, preferences and perceptions.
- They’re struggling with bills. In fact, younger consumers are significantly more likely than older consumers to say that their incomes have declined from before the COVID-19 pandemic and that this has led them to miss paying their bills. In addition, they are also more likely to say that they currently have past due monthly bills due to changes in their financial situation during the pandemic.
- They think the payment process could be simpler. Despite a generally high level of technological proficiency, younger consumers, especially Gen Z, are much more likely to find the bill paying experience complicated.
- They are more likely to pay at the last minute. Almost one in three Gen Z and Millennials report making an “urgent” or same-day payment in the past year.
- They are less patient when it comes to payment speed. Almost half of Millennials and Gen Z say they check the source of payment (bank account, credit card statement, etc.) immediately after paying an invoice to see if it has been processed. These younger consumers are also much more likely than older consumers to be frustrated with the time it takes for businesses to process bill payments.
- They will change their payment channel for faster speed – and even pay for it. Almost half of Gen Z and Gen Y consumers (49.1% and 47.7% respectively) would consider switching their payment channel or method of choice if it meant the payment would be processed faster. 14% of all consumers would consider paying a nominal fee if it meant their payment would be processed faster, rising to almost 24% for Gen Z and 26% for Gen Y.
In a world of instant and virtual gratification, it’s easy to forget that for the most part, payouts aren’t instant. This is where the question must be asked: instead of making young consumers learn (in particular) through experience, should we take the desire for speed as an opportunity for the industry to respond to changing needs? consumers?
How real-time payments can help younger generations manage their bills
Now that we have a better idea of what a growing number of consumers who pay bills are facing, we can delve into one of the growing solutions to these problems: real-time payments.
Real-time payments would make bill payments as easy as dividing the check at the table. Instead of receiving a “payment request” (R2P) only from friends and family, they will also be able to receive requests from billers. Overall, by integrating real-time payments into bill payments, we have a better chance of simplifying the chaotic world of bill payments. This would make it more efficient, faster and frictionless which would result in a better customer experience. This would allow consumers to better manage their funds, make same-day payments of their bills without having to pay late fees, and get instant confirmation that their payment has been received. ACI drives innovation in real-time bill payments around the world, including participation in the FedNow pilot program.
For billers across industries, now is the time to plan how they can leverage upcoming real-time payment features to deliver the instant virtual gratification that young consumers expect.
Download the Prime Time for Real-Time reportto learn more about the innovation of real-time payments around the world.