More evidence and commentary as to why the 30-day or 60-day delinquency rates connected with your portfolio might be at their current levels arrived this week.
And consumer study findings coincided with the Federal Reserve chairman reiterating “vulnerabilities” within the financial system.
On Thursday, a new report from Aite Group, sponsored by ACI Worldwide, a global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, and Visa revealed a series of findings about how consumers feel about maintaining their financial commitments. When it comes to bills, the study showed Americans are sometimes anxious (60 percent), late (46 percent) and have to call about their account (39 percent).
The report titled, U.S. Consumer Payments Experience: A Blueprint for Creating Positive Behaviors, surveyed 2,425 U.S. consumers.
Principal findings from the study include:
— More than three-fifths (61 percent) of consumers make one-time bill payments, instead of using automatic or recurring payments resulting in nearly half (46 percent) of consumers paying a bill late.
— Twenty-three percent pay within the first 30 days after the due date.
— Eighteen percent sometimes pay beyond 30 days after the due date.
— Five percent never pay on time/
Even with a strong economy, Americans are not ready for extra bills, according to the study, which also noted:
— Only 26 percent can always pay monthly bills even when there are extra bills that month.
— Seventeen percent say they can always pay unforeseen bills without using credit or a loan.
Fed view on consumer debt
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell spoke during an event hosted by the Economic Club of New York. Powell explained the construction and purpose of the Fed’s report that is designed to monitor financial stability.
“We have developed a framework to help us monitor risks to stability in our complex and rapidly evolving financial system,” Powell said. “The framework distinguishes between shocks, that is, trigger events that can be hard to predict or influence, and vulnerabilities, defined as features of the financial system that amplify shocks.
“The report is organized around four broad vulnerabilities that have been prominent in financial crises through the centuries,” he continued.
Not surprisingly, one of those vulnerabilities is excessive debt loads consumers and businesses might carry.
“Credit booms have often led to credit busts and sometimes to painful economic downturns,” Powell told the group assembled in the Big Apple. “When the bust comes, those who have overborrowed tend to sharply reduce their spending. Defaults typically rise faster than had been expected, which may put financial institutions into distress. These effects may combine to bring a serious economic downturn.
“This boom-bust pattern was clear in measures of household debt around the crisis period, with mortgage debt rising far above its historical trend and then contracting sharply,” Powell continued.
“After the contraction, household debt has grown only moderately. The net increase in mortgage debt has been among borrowers with higher credit scores. While heavily indebted households always suffer in a downturn, all of this suggests that household debt would not present a systemic stability threat if the economy sours,” he went on to say.
More trends from payment study
Study orchestrators also highlighted that consumers want more control of how they manage their bills, mentioning these report findings:
— Among consumers who pay late (46 percent), 72 percent are “very” to “extremely likely” to pay on time if they can pay with a debit or credit card.
— Eighty-two percent note that a website allowing them to pay over time or negotiate the amount they owe would help them pay on time.
— Sixty-nine percent who pay late are “very” to “extremely likely” to pay on time if they can pay by text message.
What might not be surprising to finance companies and their collection departments, the study also noted that consumers’ approach to paying bills revolves around their paycheck.
— Eighty-nine percent of consumers employ a structured strategy to paying bills.
— Thirty-five percent adopt a strategy centered around their paycheck.
—Only 13 percent adopt a strategy centered around the due date of the bill.
“As we head into the holiday season, where consumer spending is at its peak, these results provide insights into where businesses can make adjustments to improve the bill payment experience,” said Andrew Sajeski, business leader of biller solutions at ACI Worldwide. “For example, text for pay is a tool that isn’t being utilized enough, even though consumers are very willing to use it.
“In addition, the digitization of customer communication tools can help businesses enhance the customer experience and lower costs relative to conventional communication methods,” Sajeski continued.
Meanwhile, Bill Dobbins, senior vice president and head of business development at Visa, reiterated one of the study’s primary findings.
“Consumers want more choice and control when it comes to paying bills, given most of them choose to pay bills around their paycheck versus the bill due date” Dobbins said.
“Visa Debit is the most frequently used payment method for all household and personal bills because it provides consumers more control, while helping businesses reduce late payments,” he continued.
“As businesses consider how to improve customers’ payment experience, the number one thing they can do is ensure their business is equipped to accept electronic payments,” Dobbins went on to say.
Michael Trilli, research director at Aite Group and co-author of the report, added his assessment, too.
“This data confirms our suspicions and previous research that consumers’ frustrations are high regarding their bill payment experience,” Trilli said.
“This research is unique because we’re able to connect how a series of tools ranging from reminders to card payments and debit card refunds can ward off frustrations and change consumer payment behaviors,” he added.
The complete report can be downloaded here.