We spent the past few days at BAI’s TransPay Conference <bai.org>. It featured much talk about the displacement of paper checks with electronic transactions. This is not a new story, but the implications for banks make good fodder for presentations. We'll cover a few of the key points in this and subsequent articles.
Retention Benefits of ACH
Common sense tells you that if bill pay is good for customer retention, then preauthorized debits would be even better. They are usually more difficult to setup and much harder to unravel. However, we'd never seen numbers to back this up until yesterday. In a presentation by Fiserv’s Mark Sievewright, he cited internal figures from a national retail bank first presented by Dove Consulting <doveconsulting.com> that quantified attrition rate by type of ACH payment used:
Annual Annual Net
ACH Usage Attrition Rate Income (pre-tax)
No ACH activity 37% $190
ACH deposit only 7.9% $360
ACH deposit and pay 3.4% $470
It costs just a few pennies per month to process preauthorized direct debits, whereas pay-anyone bill payment can cost as much as $5/month. If you have 25,000 bill-pay customers, you could add $1 million to your bottom line by reintroducing a $3.95/mo fee for the privilege. However, it won't be easy putting the free-bill-pay genie back in the bottle. You'll have to go slow, introducing fees to certain segments, such as lower-balance checking customers, or checking customers who have not opted in to electronic statements.
For more on alternatives to free bill pay, see Online Banking Report #109, "Pricing."