Check Brings Mobile Payments Capabilities to Billers

Matt Swain
Oct 24, 2013

The account consolidation and mobile bill payments markets continue to heat up, with a variety of innovative services and growing consumer interest creating pressure on billers to support consolidation and provide mobile options. One of the most active players has been Check, which announced in September a $24 million Series C investment–from Menlo Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, and Pitango Venture Capital–bringing the total investment to $49 million. Already with millions of active users, Check is now offering its mobile bill pay service to billers who want to fill this gap within their payment options.

As a refresher on Check, here is what you need to know:

  • Free mobile app to pay and track bills
  • Changed its name from Pageonce in May
  • Founded in 2007 to provide online account consolidation and tracking
  • Expanded into bill payments with an emphasis on mobile (98% of usage)
  • Cites 10 million users and averages $2 million/day in bill payments processed
  • Users have access to 8,000+ billers by entering user ID and password
  • Revenue comes from premium services for consumers (e.g., expedited payments, credit card payments), biller transaction fees, and consumer conversion fees from marketing offers
  • Privately-funded, U.S. focus, headquartered in Palo Alto, California with development offices in Kfar Saba, Israel
  • Competitors include CheckFree, Digital Postal Mail, doxo, Manilla, and Mint

I recently caught up with Check COO Steve Schultz to discuss the progress they have made with the service, the influx of venture capital, the biller opportunity, and to better understand where the service is headed.

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

  • The name change from Pageonce to Check reflects more clearly the company’s mobile payments strategy and value to consumers, and has been well-received by users and industry partners
  • Check will process more than $500 million in payments volume in 2013
  • The $24 million in Series C financing brings total investment to $49 million, giving Check the means to accelerate customer growth and drive product innovation
  • The addition of features such as a file cabinet, payment scheduling, expedited payments, and ability to make local payments represent some of the capabilities in which Check has invested
  • Billers are partnering with Check to offer mobile payments services to their customers
  • The biller onboarding process is minimal due to existing technology and partnerships–a partner can be live in a matter of weeks

This last point is of particular interest, given the findings from our recent research. Of the 254 businesses that we surveyed regarding bill payment, 8% noted that a mobile phone app was a top payment channel today. Nearly 25% expect that it will be a top payment channel for them in three years, a three-fold growth in attention–and that statistic doesn’t account for the companies that expect it to be an important channel in the mix, but not the primary payment channel.

For many small-to-medium billers, creating a mobile-optimized web page is daunting, let alone a dedicated mobile app. According to Schultz, this is where Check comes in. “Check is a great fit for companies interested in providing a strong mobile experience to their customers without the cost of buying or building the technology themselves.” Check is already making progress on this front, with announced partnerships including Alltel Wireless, Desert Water Agency, and Irvine Ranch Water District. For Desert Water Agency and Irvine Ranch Water District, bank payments (ACH) via Check are free and credit card payments are subject to a 4% and $3.25 processing fee, respectively.

Utilities make sense as an initial target market, given that they (generally) focus on getting paid versus trying to create cross-sell and upsell opportunities by directing customers to their own websites. Check appears to share this perspective. Today, Check published a summary of research it conducted with 51 utility company professionals that builds on the opportunity for mobile payment providers to partner with billers. One of the key points in their research (that corroborates InfoTrends research) is that many billers face mobile strategy implementation hurdles such as:

  • Lack of IT support and resources (29%)
  • Budgetary concerns (17%)
  • Security/compliance concerns (7%)

With 75% of these utility companies lacking a mobile bill payment experience today, there is clearly an opportunity for vendors, service bureaus, and consumer services to support this market.

Given the significant industry attention on account consolidation and mobile payments, Check is proving to be a market contender. Mid-sized billers will be a sweet spot for Check as they expand their partner strategy. These billers are large enough to drive increased user and payments volume, but not so large that they have the resources and desire to build their own mobile experience.

 

Matt Swain
Associate Director, Document Outsourcing
@SwainfoTrends

Since completion of our landmark study, The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services, InfoTrends continues to track, present on, and consult for the digital mailbox services market in addition to our broader tracking of the customer communications delivery and payment markets via studies like our recently-published study entitled The Future of Multi-channel Transactional Communications.

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