Mobile Bill Pay Realities

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Welcome to Delusions and Reality Week here at Snarketing 2.0. On Monday, it was Disruptive Delusions Day, today we discuss the realities of mobile bill pay (in the US).

SAP released the results of a global survey it conducted which found that:

“Half of the respondents surveyed turn to their devices to pay a bill (55%), make a bank transfer (52%) and set up a new account (48%).”

Needless to say, the “half pay bills with a mobile device” snippet has caught the eye of many people, even making the headline of a Bank Technology News article.

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There are a couple of things to keep in mind when evaluating this 55% statistic. First, the study was conducted in 17 countries, so the number of consumers in the US that pay bills using a mobile device may be very different. 

And, in fact, it is. A study conducted by Aite Group on how US consumers pay monthly bills (tracking 15 of the most popular bills that account for ~85% of all bills paid), the percentage that pay any of these bills on a smartphone can be counted with the fingers on one hand. If you consider a tablet to be a mobile device, then you won’t need more than the other hand to total up the percentage.

The second factor to consider is that, according to SAP’s press release regarding the survey, “the research was conducted with 12,424 adults over the age of 18 globally who own a basic mobile or smartphone device.” In other words, we’re not talking about all consumers.

In the US, very few consumers pay bills (or do any kind of mobile banking, for that matter) with a feature phone. If that’s true in other countries — and I have to believe that in economically developed countries like the US, sane consumers pay bills on a PC or laptop instead of a feature phone — then we’re talking about a maximum of 75% of the population in any country that has a smartphone.

In fact, in the 46 countries tracked by Google, smartphone penetration is less than 50% in more than half the countries. Which means that to get to “55% of consumers pay bills with a mobile device,” the percentage of smartphone owners that pay bills with their smartphone would have to be astronomically high.

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For a different perspective, let’s look at the percentage of all monthly bills are paid with a mobile device (not the percentage of consumers). According to Aite Group’s research, you can chop a couple of fingers off your hand and still have enough digits to count up the total.

Another mobile bill pay reality: Two types of monthly bills account for 25% of all bills paid with a mobile device. And utilities — which comprise the most frequently paid bill type — is not one of these two types.

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I’m not disparaging or criticizing SAP’s study (I can still feel the pain I had to endure the last time I commented on a vendor’s research).

Instead, I’m trying to get you to think more critically about interpreting research numbers, and to understand the sample and sampling methodology before drawing conclusions.

The mobile bill pay reality — in the US, at least — is that nowhere near half of consumers are using a mobile device to pay their monthly bills.

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