July 12, 2010

Online bill payment has grown to become the No. 1 method of bill payment for Internet-connected households, according to data released today by Synergistics.

As many as 73 percent of Internet-connected households are paying bills online in 2010, up from 53 percent in 2004. Further, households with Internet are paying the largest portion of their bills online compared to other methods such as checks, with 41 percent of bills paid online versus 28 percent paid through check.

"Online bill payment is clearly extensive among Internet households and is in fact the primary method of bill payment," said William H. McCracken, CEO of Synergistics. "It can no longer be considered an 'extra' or 'value-added' service by financial institutions, but simply one that must be offered as a matter of competitive parity. The focus of financial institutions should be to continue to grow the proportion of bills paid online, as well as to drive as much of this activity as possible to their own sites, rather than billers, as a relationship strengthening tactic."

The study, titled "Evaluating Consumer Payment Behavior," was conducted among 1,000 households of age 18 or older. In addition to online bill payment, the study examined consumer payment behavior at the point of sale, for bill payment and e-commerce.