According to the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) over two million customers are now using Open Banking enabled products and user numbers have doubled since January 2021*. Open Banking technology offers providers, particularly in the utilities sector, the chance to improve the experience they offer customers and increase the efficiency of their payment processes.
Tackling mis-allocated funds
Despite advances, the utilities sector is still widely affected by the problem of mis-attributed or unreconciled customer payments, often arising when incorrect reference numbers or inaccurate account details are used by customers when making one-off payments such as first or final payments. This is also still an issue for those who use facilities like Direct Debits, such as when they need to settle balances on accounts or switch providers. This problem may extend to many millions of pounds of unaccounted for funds across the sector – creating extra admin for finance teams, as well as headaches for customers whose payments have not been correctly allocated against their account.
How Open Banking can help
Payment capabilities made possible by Open Banking tackle the payments challenge, by facilitating safe, fast and accurate payments in the utilities sector. New products, such as Pay with Bank transfer from American Express, mean customers are able to settle bills from their bank account, without needing to have a payment card to hand. They don’t even need to be an American Express® Cardmember, just hold a UK bank account.
One of the ways consumers can pay their utility bill is by simply clicking on the “Pay with Bank transfer” button on the payment page and select the bank they wish to pay from. American Express powers the connection between the website and the consumer’s bank using the Open Banking platform. The consumer is automatically redirected to their bank’s web page or app to authenticate themselves and approve the payment detail. For the merchant this means that they receive the funds almost instantly.
This presents a valuable way to tackle the challenges associated with one-off payments. Pay with Bank transfer removes the requirement to manually enter payment information, making it an easy and convenient payment method while ensuring funds are more accurately allocated against accounts. Given the competitive landscape and potentially high customer churn rates in the utilities sector, where customers turn to tariff comparison sites and online reviews, ease of payment is another important differentiator between providers.
Customised integration options enabled by Pay with Bank transfer mean this payment method can be directly integrated into digital bills, or they can receive a link straight to their phone, offering customers the ability to pay with just a few clicks. Accurate account details can be safely embedded into the transaction, ending the pain of mis-allocated payments.
Open Banking tools like this are a great way to help customers stay in control of their payments, while reducing the administrative and cashflow burden for providers.