Archive for 'Phone Billing Market Research'

Interested in an alternate payment method that will benefit you, the merchant, as well as your customers? Look no further than Bill To Phone, a proven way for e-commerce providers to boost profits.

Bill To Phone is a service any online merchant can provide to give consumers access to a safe payment processing method. Customers who choose Bill To Phone will see the charges for the service or product that they purchase on their monthly phone bill. Once the customer remits payment to the provider, it is returned to the merchant through the phone provider, and ILD Teleservices acts as the intermediary for the transaction.

Here’s how it benefits you, the merchant:

  • You access potential revenue that is lost due to security concerns: Experts estimate that consumers fail to purchase products and services totaling in the tens of billions of dollars every year because of security fears. By offering alternative payment methods like bill to phone, that can mean an increase in nearly $100 per customer — every month.
  • Offering multiple payment options decreases shopping cart abandonment: According to some reports, 35 percent of consumers abandon a shopping cart — or fail to complete the transaction — because they have to provide personal information they are not comfortable with releasing. Thirty-four percent abandon their carts when a registration process is required. Further, 31 percent will fail to complete the purchasing process if they believe the merchant or site is unreliable. But Bill To Phone gives consumers a safe way to purchase without providing a bevy of personal information.
  • You gain access to ILD’s proven network of relationships with phone providers that includes more than 150 million individuals and businesses, including providers like EarthLink and People PC.

But the benefits of using Bill To Phone aren’t limited to just merchants; consumers benefit from:

  • Having a safe method to pay for products and services, using their phone provider — an account that they will already have established
  • Using a method that ensures they do not have to give up private information, as their phone company acts as the intermediary responsible for charging the customer, and ensuring that the customer pays the bill — upon which the merchant will receive payment
  • Having the means to acquire products and services online, even if you don’t own a credit card

ILD Teleservices is the industry leader in providing safe and effective payment solutions, including the proven Bill To Phone alternative. Contact us today, and get on the road to making sales with this previously untapped market share.

Ecommerce Payments and Stats

Are you trying to decide if alternative payment methods (APMs) are right for your ecommerce business? Well, you’re on the right track. Alternatives to traditional credit card transactions are becoming a go-to way for digital merchants to boost revenue, expand markets, and reduce fraud exposure. Check out these ecommerce payment stats and facts:

Consumers Need Payment Alternatives for Digital Content.

  • Nearly 30% of American consumers said they didn’t own a credit card in a February 2010 survey—a 10% jump from June 2009. (CreditCards.com)
  • 17 million American adults do not have a bank account, relying instead on check-cashing services. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • 21 million Americans are considered “underbanked.” These consumers have a checking account but often use payday services and car title loans. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • According to a Javelin report, only 35% of merchants offer the alternative payment methods that make ecommerce transactions possible for those without credit cards or banking services. (Internet Retailer)

Credit Cards Cost Consumers.

  • Credit card penalty fees cost consumers $20.5 billion in 2009. (CreditCards.com)
  • Proposed caps on interchange (or swipe) fees charged to merchants could trigger banks to make up for lost revenue by charging consumers more. For example, in June Bank of America will start charging some users a penalty interest rate of up to 30% if they make late payments. (CNN Money)
  • The proposed caps have also spurred banks to consider capping debit card transactions at as little as $50 or $100, even if the transaction is run as credit. (CNN Money)

Fraud Costs Consumers.

  • 11.1 million U.S. adults were victims of fraud in 2009—the highest level since 2003. (CreditCards.com)
  • Identity fraud victims are twice as likely as non-victims to change the way they shop and pay for purchases on ecommerce sites, according to Gartner research. (Information Week)

Fraud Costs Ecommerce Merchants.

  • Ecommerce merchants lost $3.3 billion to fraud in 2009, translating into 1.2% of lost revenue. (CyberSource)
  • The FTC estimates merchants lose 6x as much revenue from the fear of fraud than from actual fraud. (Ethoca)

It’s time to add alternative payment methods to your digital shopping cart. To learn more about what APMs will do for you, contact ILD Teleservices, an industry leader in LEC (or phone) billing, which allows customers to easily and safely charge purchases to their phone bill.

You might have the coolest website and sell this season’s hottest digital content, but if you’re sticking with conventional ecommerce payment methods, like credit cards, new research suggests you could be missing out by not offering consumers alternatives.                                                                                                                                      

The Study

The Javelin Research survey, completed by more than 3,200 consumers, revealed that nearly 55% have used an alternative payment option. Check out these additional tidbits to come out of the study:

  • Only 35% of ecommerce merchants offer alternative options.
  • About 38% of ecommerce merchants said the average order tended to carry a higher dollar value when the consumer used an alternative payment method.bankruptcy-alternatives

 

The Takeaway

If you’re an ecommerce decision maker and haven’t considered adding alternative payment options to your checkout process, now is the time. Bill to phone, which allows the customer to add their purchase directly to their phone bill, is one option. Here’s how it will help boost your conversion rate:  

  • Consumers fear credit card fraud and online identity theft. There are consumers who will avoid purchasing online because they don’t want to share credit card information over the web. Others won’t use processing sites, like PayPal, because they’re required to open an account and submit credit card or bank account information. With bill to phone, the customer only shares their home phone number and the last 4 digits of their SSN.
  • Consumers may not have access to credit cards or bank accounts. If you rely on credit card payment options, you may be missing out on the millions of unbanked or underbanked U.S. consumers. Offering payment alternatives gives these customers access to your products and services.
  • Customers want convenience. Imagine shopping online during a lunch break, only to arrive at the checkout screen and realize you left the credit card at home. Yeah, it frustrates customers, too. Bill to phone gives that customer a no-brainer alternative that compels them to complete the purchase instead of abandon the cart.

 

Bill to phone and other alternative payment methods will help you maximize ecommerce revenue. Contact the ILD Teleservices team to learn more about the payment solutions that are right for your business.

Bill to phone – the right ecommerce payment solution for your site?

ecommerce iconYou’ve been hearing more and more about bill to phone as an ecommerce payment solution. Maybe it’s raised conversion rates for a colleague. Perhaps you’ve come across it as you searched the Web, looking for alternative payment solutions that will attract clients and boost revenue.

So is bill to phone payment suited for your ecommerce business?  Here are three categories that are ideal for this alternative:

Once and done services – Whether it’s a charge for technical support or a software download, bill to phone offers a low-risk payment option to clients who may be wary of doing business with an online company they’re unfamiliar with. By entering their phone account information, consumers are no longer required to provide sensitive credit card info to complete their transaction.

Subscription services – When you charge a monthly fee, an option such as bill to phone provides a common sense payment solution. You benefit from a manageable, easy-to-use billing platform, while your customer enjoys the convenience of paying for dating sites, online video games, or other ecommerce subscriptions with their monthly phone bill.

Pay-per-use products and services – From web conferencing and streaming movies to podcasts and music, when clients buy a product on a regular basis, they want an easy payment system that they don’t need to think too much about. In fact, the less a customer needs to handle bills and submit payments, the easier it becomes to do business with you. Bill to phone is transactions made easy—for you and your customers.

Learn more about bill to phone – This ILD Blog entry will give you the details on how the entire bill to phone process works. If your ecommerce firm will benefit from higher conversion rates and increased revenue, contact ILD, a team with the tools and hands-on expertise to transform your payment options into an asset.

Bill to phone – Is your ecommerce strategy missing this revenue booster?

Are you doing everything you can to generate revenue through ecommerce? Well, if you’re not offering bill to phone payment processing, then perhaps you’re missing out. It’s time to learn more about how this increasingly popular payment method can boost revenue.

In a bill to phone transaction, the customer submits their telephone account information as their payment method—much like they would enter credit card information. After the info is authenticated, the billed amount is added to the customer’s monthly phone bill. The customer simply pays the amount in full at the same time they pay for their phone charges. The payment is then remitted to the merchant. For a full explanation of the process, check out this ILD Teleservices blog entry.

Why should you offer this payment option? Here are just two advantages of bill to phone payment processing:

  • You gain instant access to unreachable customers – Maybe your ideal customer is part of the senior set that shuns the use of credit cards. Perhaps some of your clients don’t have bank accounts. Engaging in ecommerce with these customers can be virtually impossible. In fact, in some cases you might find yourself consigned to doing business old-school style, complete with illegible handwritten order forms and personal checks or money orders.

By offering this payment solution you instantly gain access to groups that were previously inaccessible—after all, bill to phone services are available to more than 90% of the U.S. More customers. More revenue. What’s not to love?

  • You provide customers with peace of mind – There’s no doubt your clients are worried about identity theft and credit card fraud. In fact, the 2010 Unisys Security Index found that 62% of Americans are seriously concerned about credit card fraud. (To put that number into perspective, the same survey found that a virtually identical number, 65%, of Americans are seriously concerned about national security.)What’s more, they found that the fear of credit card fraud is at its highest level in three years.

A bill to phone solution provides an alternative that alleviates this very real fear among consumers. Because they’re not required to share credit card information, the risk of fraud and indentify theft is lowered. This makes bill to phone an excellent way to reduce customers’ vulnerability.  When consumers are more confident in the safety of the transaction, they may be more likely to initiate and/or continue their relationship with you.

To learn more about how bill to phone processing can build your company’s bottom line, contact the team at ILD .

When making a purchase online, there are a variety of methods that can be used to complete a payment transaction.  Two of the most common used are credit and third party billing to a telephone bill.  These two methods are similar in some aspects but vary in several.

Applying a purchase to a phone bill works similarly to credit card transactions in that the customer chooses the bill to phone payment option then is prompted to enter their telephone data much in the same way credit card information is entered to be verified and accepted.  There is information obtained that is unique to the bill subscriber that is used strictly for verification purposes.  The information is then communicated from the merchant over a secure gateway to a processor, or third party biller (also known as third party clearinghouse). Next, the data is authenticated by the processor or clearinghouse.  Once the identifier information is authenticated, the clearinghouse sends confirmation back to the merchant.  The merchant then sends the EMI record for billing to the clearinghouse for processing.  The clearinghouse in turn sends the EMI record to the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) for inclusion in the next billing cycle. The LEC is responsible to remit payments received less processing fees to the clearinghouse, which then is remitted by the clearinghouse to the merchant, much like credit card payment flow as follows (courtesy of Bank of America).

Credit Card Flow (courtesy of Bank of America)

Credit Card Flow (courtesy of Bank of America)

In the credit card world, the flow of information and money between the merchant, the acquirer, card association and issuer is known as the interchange, and it consists of a few steps:

Authorization

The cardholder pays for the purchase and the merchant submits the transaction to the acquirer. The acquirer verifies with the issuer—almost instantly—that the card number and transaction amount are both valid, and then processes the transaction for the cardholder.

Batching

After the transaction is authorized it is then stored in a batch, which the merchant sends to the acquirer later to receive payment (usually at the end of the day).

Clearing and settlement

The acquirer sends the transactions in the batch through the card association, which debits the issuers for payment and credits the acquirer. In effect, the issuers pay the acquirer for the transactions.

Funding

Once the acquirer has been paid, the merchant receives payment. The amount the merchant receives is equal to the transaction amount minus the discount rate, which is the fee the merchant pays the acquirer for processing the transaction.

Bill to Phone Method

The bill to phone method is different from credit card purchases in that the consumer is not offered a credit line, but has the ability to charge services to their home phone bill by the phone company.  Payment in full is due during the next billing cycle. In general, with this form of payment merchants are not paid until the consumer pays the bill.  However, there are instances and companies that forward monies to the merchant upon receipt of the bill in expectance of compliance by the subscriber, which is direct billing.

There are benefits to applying a purchase price to an existing telecommunications account.  Being that the account is already established, minimal identifier information is necessary to complete the transaction.  This means that your credit information is still safe and secure and not across the internet for the public to see.  Let’s face it; the internet is not the most secure place to display personal information.  This method of alternative payment is not only more secure, it is easy to do.  The ease of use coupled with the security is what sets this method apart from credit card transactions.

“Always look on the bright side”, “there’s always something to learn from hardship”, and another favorite expression “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel”.  Just a few positive sayings to keep one’s spirit optimistic in these challenging economic times, right?  Well, while optimism is always important, life’s lessons are equally essential.  Many of us have realized that spending more than we earn can quickly get us in to trouble and have since learned to value non material things.  For lots of Americans, material wealth is not quite as important as we once thought.  These economic conditions have forced many to learn how to live without credit.

This tough lesson has resulted in a 32% increase in bankruptcies in 2009. According to AACER (Automated Access to Court Electronic Records) and the American Bankruptcy Institute, there have been more than 1.4 million consumer bankruptcy filings recorded last year. Even worse, bankruptcies grew by one third between 2007 and 2008.  Right now, we are seeing the highest level since the ’05 reform

“This is now a perfect storm” as 2009 saw house prices fall and unemployment and foreclosure rates rise, says David P. Leibowitz, a bankruptcy attorney and managing member of LakeLaw, headquartered in Waukegan, Ill in an interview with CreditCards.com. But with many credit card companies cutting back on consumers’ spending limits or canceling cards completely, some consumers are becoming financially strapped, Leibowitz says.

In addition to learning these lessons, watching the banking industries recent blunders makes one really think about credit cards and the impact they can have on our own financial future. Survey results published by USA Today and conducted by Auriemma Consulting in July showed that 47% of consumers have less trust for credit card companies compared to a year ago.

Consumers are looking for payment choices; particularly those cashless payment alternatives which offer no interest.  When shopping online, the option to choose alternate payment options, such as PayPal and Bill To Phone are becoming the smartest way to keep the credit card nightmares away.  But like any payment method, there’s good and bad – no interest, no finance charges and simple and easy payment as well as risk of fraud and cramming to the phone bill.  Alternative payment providers, like credit card companies and ILD Teleservices, follow a strict process which begins with conducting comprehensive background checks on merchants prior to billing, requiring documented authorization of each transaction, and offering complaint resolution in cases of unauthorized billing. 

The perfect payment option has yet to be developed, but the shake up of the credit card industry and the resulting financial debacle certainly shows we are moving in a new direction.  Don’t you think?

The death of the credit card is inevitable. 

You don’t agree? Read this 3-part series.

 

The oldest payment method in civilization is making a strong comeback.  No, not gold (that’s for another post).  Rather, the concept that if you are going to buy something, you’re going to have to pay for it.  Consumers are shifting away from the “borrow and buy” mentality back to the “cash and carry” model which has been used for civilizations.   

If back in the day, you didn’t have the money to pay for merchandise, then you went without.  Not the norm anymore, given all the plastic in our wallets.  Believe it or not though, consumer credit is still a relatively recent phenomenon – for how much longer we have to ask?  To answer that, we’ve got to understand the history.

History.

The first modern consumer credit cards were developed only 60 years ago (in the 1950’s) with Diners Club, followed by American Express, then Bank of America (“BofA”) with their BankAmericard (which is now Visa) close behind.  In an effort to capitalize on the “all-purpose credit card”, companies started dropping preapproved credit cards to unknowing consumers.  BofA, for example mailed over 60,000 preapproved cards to folks in Fresno, California, although those consumers never asked for them.  Others again followed suit, and the next thing you know the scams started - people are stealing credit cards out of mailboxes, consumers are getting billed for cards they never knew they had, and a black market  began in stolen credit cards and identity theft. 

Things got a little better in the 70’s, when Congress began regulating the credit card industry.  For starters, they banned the practices of mass mailing active credit cards to those who had not requested them (some of whom were even dead).  However, not all government regulations have been so consumer friendly. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smiley vs. Citibank lifted restrictions on the amount of late penalty fees a credit card company could charge. Deregulation has also allowed very high interest rates to be charged.  In an effort to get consumers to use, award points programs were promoted and in the decades since, using a credit card has become so universal that paying with cash has become passé. Check your wallet, how much cash do you carry around these days? 

Continue to Part 2 of this 3 Part series.

The death of the credit card is inevitable. 

Still don’t agree? Continue reading Part 2 below.

 

Current Situation.

Want to buy a new car, the dealer down the street will give you a lease.  Tired of your old television? Get 10% off by opening a Best Buy credit card.  Two hundred dollar steak dinner at Ruths Chris?  Charge it.  Kindle? iPhone? Christmas?  Whip out that plastic card, and justify it with all those great points you’ll get. 

While it makes sense to charge it at the time, because you know you’ll pay the charge off that  month or in a few months, what happens when suddenly you can’t,  and you’re forced to make only the minimum payment?  You may find yourself, like many people in this economy, charging necessities like gas, groceries and utilities to your credit cards, further exacerbating your debt load. 

In 2008, the average credit card debt in America of households was $10,679 (and likely higher in 2009).  If some of these households now can only make minimum monthly payments, they could be looking at 30 years to pay off that balance, and in the end they will have paid about $15,000 in interest alone.  Check out Bankrate.com’s  calculator and see for yourself.  

Note – In the current economy, banks are paying only about 1% in interest for borrowing your money, but charging as much as 29% when you borrow their money. 

 

Continue to Part 3 of this 3 part series.

The death of the credit card is inevitable. 

Read the final post of this 3-part series.

 

The Solution.

Hamlet’s charachter, Polonius warned, “neither a borrower, nor a lender be“.  But most of us are one or the other, and it’s this endless willingness of lenders to lend and borrowers to borrow that has shaped this recent economy.  It’s not all bad, because it kept the consumer economy moving steadily from the early 1990s until the meltdown of 2007.   But what about the future?  How sustainable is high interest borrowing and lending?  Look around.  We are seeing alternative payment companies like PayPal, BillMeLater, Boku, and ILD Teleservices, experience phenomenal growth.  The alternative payment method (APM) providers offer consumers a secure way to shop online without increasing their debt load and interest loan with “no credit card required” offers, and no interest.  While conversely credit card companies are implementing increasingly hostile practices not only toward consumers but with extra fees for merchants, too.   

A national poll by Consumer Reports lends further validation to this argument:

  • 45% of consumers say they are paying less with credit than a year ago
  • More than one-third (32%) have paid off and closed a card since January 2008,  and half of those that canceled did so in direct response to the actions of credit-card issuers, such as cutting limits, hiking rates, or imposing fees. 

 Rest in Peace

So, do you still think credit cards will be alive and well for another 60 years? Clearly, I think there are some big changes coming, but I’d like to hear your thoughts, so please share them below.

 Oh by the way, here are some other interesting links.  If you don’t go to the site, at least read the headlines:

Consumer Reports Poll: Consumers Angry at Credit Card Companies; Citing Unfair Treatment When Closing Accounts

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/consumer-reports-poll-consumers-angry-at-credit-card-companies-citing-unfair-treatment-when-closing-accounts-63559932.html

Merchants Start Campaign in Battle Over Credit-Card Fees

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/merchants-start-campaign-in-battle-over-credit-card-fees/

Anheuser-Busch Steps Into Credit Card Transaction Fee Reform Battle

http://www.csnews.com/csn/cat_management/malt_bev/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1004030231

“The fees that the credit card companies charge defy logic” –  CHS Joins Battle Against Credit Card Fees

http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/food-stores/4486057-1.html

Angry Consumer Slices and Dices Credit Cards To Protest Rate Increase

http://consumerist.com/2009/01/angry-consumer-slices-and-dices-credit-cards-to-protest-rate-increase.html#comments-content