Remote Payment Alternatives for Businesses

There has been a lesson to learn for businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. This lesson was having an alternative plan in place for both operations and payment collections. The closing of storefronts; left the non-essential businesses being hit with crippling monetary losses. Some businesses still found ways to continue operations through adaption.  One of the solutions during COVID-19 was remote bill collection.

In the past, the only way a customer could pay a bill was pay by check, cash in person or by mail. There also was the need to count money by hand, which left businesses open to internal/ external theft. From the utility industry, property tax collectors, car loan lenders to insurance companies; customers need flexibility in how and when they pay their bills.

Why Are Remote Payments Important?

As seen with COVID-19, during a crisis there needs to be alternatives for both businesses and customers to continue daily life. Many businesses turned to a remote workforce or continuing providing services through the internet.  A crisis is not just limited to the impacts from a pandemic, but can also be natural disasters such as  hurricanes. Being able to quickly adapt in a crisis can be what defines if a business will survive or not. Planning ahead and defining other methods for delivering consumers services is a key to a business succeeding. Business adaption to continuing to collect customer payments is also a fundamental part of business success during a crisis. Remote payment options allow consumers to pay for services and businesses to continue operations.

Remote Payment Options

Remote bill collection has many options available, but every industry has its own set of consumer needs. An example would be utility customers may want the option to pay cash. The solution for cash payments would be a walk-in payment center. Customers paying a collection agency may prefer to make an online payment or over-the-phone payment. For these customers a secure payment portal or interactive voice response may fit their needs.

Online Payments
Online payment processing can be integrated with an existing business website or connected through an online portal without a website. Customers use what is referred to as a payment gateway that offers a secure method to process debit cards, credit cards, or ACH payments.

Over-the-Phone Payments
Interactive voice response payments create an automated system for consumers to make payments using their voice. The added benefit of  IVR payment processing is not having to have extra staff to handle high call volumes. For traditional customer service payments; the best solution is a secure payment platform that can be easily managed. Agents can securely enter payment information and be able to access billing information.

Mobile Phone Payments
Most consumers always have their mobile phone nearby, so why not provide the option of making payments though cell phones. One of the newest technologies in payment processing is pay by text. Businesses use texting capabilities to send bills, payment reminders, and process payments. Consumers find that text payments are fast and convenient. Besides using online mobile access for bill payments, another solution is a billing app. Consumers can download an app and control their payment experience.

Walk-in-Payments
There are still a number of consumers that either don’t have access to banks or prefer using cash. This is where a walk-in payment center could provide another channel to collect payments. Often payment centers can be seen in Walmart or other large chain stores. But what if those chains are closed due to an epidemic. That is why choosing a payment center with a large network is important. While some chains were temporarily closed; essential businesses remained open. Customers still could make payments through alternative stores in the network such as gas stations or grocery stores.

Many companies offer remote payment processing, but it’s important to choose one that factors in customer experience, security, and compliance. Low cost and free payment products may not always be a better option. One example of failed payment systems is a utility company in Ohio used a payment system that was not compatible with their own system. Customers that signed up for paperless billing were unable to view their online bills.

Choosing the best remote payment system for your business needs to be aligned with consumer needs, ease of system integration, compliance, and data security. Researching and evaluating what payment methods are favored for customers in an industry is important. Selecting the right remote payment products can help your business thrive today and in the future.