Commentary

Mobile Bill Payment Soars

The number of U.S. households using a mobile device to pay at least one bill per month jumped 70%, from 16 million in 2013 to 27 million in 2014, according to Fiserv, which conducts annual surveys of household financial activities. The latter figure represents about 40% of the total 65 million households that own a smartphone in the U.S, and about 22% of the total 125 million households in the U.S.

As one might expect, the proportion is even higher among younger Americans, with 62% of Millennials saying they have used their smartphone to pay at least one bill. On average, people who use smartphones to pay bills handle an average of two bills per month this way, with Millennials paying an average of three per month via mobile.

Tablets are also increasingly popular for bill payment, with 19 million households paying at least one bill per month using a tablet, up 46% from 13 million households in 2013. Meanwhile 23 million tablet owners expressed interest in using their device to pay bills this year, up 28% from 18 million in 2013. That equals 15% of all U.S. households using tablets to pay bills, and 18% expressing an interest in doing so.

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The rise of mobile bill payment could help fuel greater adoption of mobile payment services in general. Last month Forrester predicted that the volume of mobile payments will soar from almost $50 billion this year to $142 billion in 2019. Within the latter figure, in-person mobile payments (for example, at retail checkouts) will come to $34 billion, or 24% of the total in 2019 -- up from just $3.4 billion today.

Most of the mobile payments business in 2019 will still be for remote payments, including purchases made using mobile apps and Web sites, accounting for $91 billion or 64% of the total in 2019. Meanwhile, the third main category of mobile payments, peer-to-peer, will more than triple from $5.2 billion this year to $17 billion, or 12% of the total, in 2019.

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