Survey finds print statements and bills still favored by many US consumers

By David Ward, San Diego, Thursday 05 May 2011

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Despite the rise of electronic payments, a new survey by Phoenix Marketing International has found predictions that soon all of America will pay all their bills online are premature.

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During a panel at the National Postal Forum in San Diego, Phoenix Marketing International President Leon Majors said the survey earlier this year of more than 5,000 US households found that 71% of people still open print financial statements and bills mailed to them, while 65% said they actually preferred to get a print copy of their bill or statement.

Majors added that while more and more Americans are switching over to electronic bill payments, there's still a sizable portion who show no inclination to change. "Right now there are about 25% of households that don't do electronic payments of any kind," he added. "So there are opportunities for paper-based billers."

Majors added the flurry of recent news stories of massive identify theft is slowing consumer interest in shifting exclusively to online bill paying. "The more security breaches there are the more people prefer paper," he said. "Currently 37% of all respondents said mail was still their primary method of paying bills and that's 38m households who prefer mail to pay bills."

For companies whose customers are aged 50 and up, the percentage is appreciably higher, Majors added.

Majors also delivered some good news for the check printing industry, noting despite predictions that checks will soon become completely obsolete, Americans still wrote a staggering 25bn checks last year.

On the same panel, Steve Monteith, USPS manager of transactions and correspondence mail, noted that 73% of bills and statements are still sent by mail and with good reason. "It gets read," he said. "More than 95% of transaction mail is opened."

Looking to drive the growth of transpromo mail that combines bills or statements with promotional materials, Monteith also said the USPS is considering boosting the additional weight companies can send as part of the Reply Rides Free program from 1.5oz to 2oz. Reply Ride Free enables billers to add promotions and other messages to statements and bills and receive rebates for the additional weight provided they meet growth targets.

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