Jun 23, 2015
Mint Bills has a new business model for billers who want to offer customers mobile bill pay.
We have been following Mint Bills since it was a fast-growing startup named Pageonce, when it rebranded to Check, and when Intuit acquired the company and later rebranded it to Mint Bills. We recently caught up with Steve Schultz, General Manager of the Biller Network for Mint Bills, to discuss how the company is doing with its new identity and expanded support structure, as well as to discuss its new business model for billers.
First off, tell us how things have been going since the acquisition and rebranding last year?
Check was already growing fast ahead of the acquisition by Intuit and rebranding to Mint Bills. It’s been about a year now and our metrics have doubled in most categories, including payment volume, payments, payers, and accounts. This is only partially from biller growth. We also have growth from other areas such as the app store, marketing, and being part of the Mint network.
We have seen a “halo effect” from the Intuit/Mint brand, specifically on the biller side. Intuit already has tremendous brand awareness with products like QuickBooks, Quicken, and TurboTax, and that puts our potential partners at ease. When we start a conversation about Mint Bills, the Intuit brand helps answer a lot of questions: Who are we? What is our value? Will we be around as a long-term partner?
Our growth has been focused on small to mid-sized utilities who have anywhere from 15,000 to 250,000 residential customers. We see this as an under-served market, and it’s really the only industry that hasn’t updated its business model. Just in the last three months we have seen faster growth than the previous nine months combined, and we now have about three times the partnerships we had at acquisition.
You have also been enabling billers to offer their customers mobile payment functionality. How has the reception been for this service?
Our customers want something simple and easy that modernizes their payment experience, and they want someone with expertise in this space. I’m often surprised at the old, outdated systems our prospects are using. More than 50% of utility inbound payments are still checks, so these companies are looking for ways to drive their customers to electronic payment. Mint Bills has the tools and flexibility that billers need to increase online/mobile adoption and payment rates.
Mint Bills succeeds with small to medium-sized utilities because they aren’t being called on by other solutions providers. They typically have constrained IT resources and don’t want a solution that requires a big integration project, as they can only handle one or two projects at time and tend to be serial in IT planning. They may be hesitant to make big tech decisions, but when we present Mint Bills as an economic decision, that gives them a lot more incentive to move rapidly and improve their technology along with their bottom line.
You recently changed your pricing model for billers. Why the change? How will it work now?
Our new model simplifies the payment experience for customers and lowers costs for billers:
- ACH payments are free for utilities and customers.
- If the utility provides its customers free credit and debit cards payments, Mint Bills charges the utility $1.50 per transaction.
- If the utility charges its customers a fee for credit or debit card payments (also known as a “convenience fee”), Mint Bills charges customers $1.99 per transaction.
- There are no set-up fees, no annual fees, no minimum fee, no maintenance fees, and no risk or chargeback fees.
What we say to billers is “let’s create an effective payment engine for your customers and reduce the costs you pay for processing payments and delivering paper bills/paper checks.” That messaging resonates almost immediately. Billers typically ask about set up, maintenance, and integration costs and are surprised to discover the simplicity of Mint Bills’ pricing model. Utilities love that they can have a partnership with Mint Bills and there are no complicated economics to speak about. We provide a very straightforward partnership.
Our pricing model is also great for customer service. Billers are not really happy about convenience fees. They don’t want to charge them and customers don’t want to pay them, and billers get so many complaints about fees so anything that can lower service fees is positive for billers. There is entrenched business model out there and we don’t want to come with a me-too model. The differentiator for Mint Bills is that we are building a cloud-based, mobile, cross-channel platform where customers can pay more than just one bill.
Thanks, Steve. And one final question, you are a panelist in our session on the future of household bill payment at Money20/20 this Fall in Las Vegas. As an appetizer to that discussion, what are your thoughts on what the household bill payment market will look like in 2020?
Two predictions for 2020. First, banks will continue to lose share in bill pay as Millennials make up more household share and use biller direct and third-party financial services. Second, photo bill pay via mobile devices will catch on and bridge customers from paper to electronic bills.
Excellent. We look forward to continuing the discussion in October!
Since its 2008 launch as Pageonce (the Personal Internet Assistant), Mint Bills has proven that it is good at adapting and fine-tuning its offering to gain traction in the market. The disruptive biller network pricing model that Schultz outlined above is just one more way that it is adjusting to grow its share.
An early look at our 2015 State of the Transactional Communications Market Survey results is showing that customer demand for mobile apps is up, and 65% of consumers who access bills and statements via mobile apps said they primarily do so to pay a bill, compared to 54% last year. Clearly there is a growing need for strong mobile bill pay offerings. What’s your strategy?
Director, Advisory Services:
InfoTrends will soon be completing our 2015 Annual State of the Transactional Communications Market Survey. For more information on how to gain access to the results, contact Jennifer Skerrett at email@example.com today!
Also, join us for our panel session at Money20/20 on October 26, 2015 in Las Vegas!
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