Encouraging Paperless Adoption in Financial Services

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This short white paper outlines hurdles to consumer adoption around e-billing and e-statements in the banking and financial services industry. It offers recommendations for financial services …

This short white paper outlines hurdles to consumer adoption around e-billing and e-statements in the banking and financial services industry. It offers recommendations for financial services marketers interested in increasing adoption of paperless statements.

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  • 1. TM MARCH 2008 GO PAPERLESS. S T R A T E G Y. D E S I G N .
  • 2. GO PAPERLESS | .01 SAVE DOLLARS. SAVE TREES. Setting your altruistic tendencies aside for the moment, most industry experts estimate that it costs $0.75 - $2.00 for each bank statement you mail. If you could convert 5,000 of your existing accounts to electronic-only statements, you could save your business upwards of $120,000 per year. That’s 240,000 sheets of paper, 480 reams and almost 30 trees.
  • 3. GO PAPERLESS | .02 HURDLES TO ADOPTION Clearly, there’s a lot to be gained by going paperless. But, for consumers, there’s a lot to be lost. At least, that’s their perception. While more and more consumers are paying bills online, those who receive bills online are still the minority (only 17% as of 2/06). These are the reasons stated most often: .01 I don’t know what an e-bill is. .02 Setting up e-billing is difficult and time consuming. .03 I don’t know how e-bills work. .04 I’m just not comfortable eliminating paper bills. I think they’re more secure than e-bills. .05 I need to have access to historical data for taxes and record-keeping. My bank offers only the last 12 months of statements online. And, they want to charge me to get statements older than that.
  • 4. GO PAPERLESS | .03 WHO’S DOING WHAT Despite consumers’ perceived hurdles, a number of banks, credit card companies and telecom companies have successfully increased the adoption of e-bills in the past 2 years. What can we learn from them? SOVEREIGN BANK AND CHECKFREE Sovereign Bank and CheckFree donated $1 to The National Arbor Day Foundation for each new e-bill that customers activated from 4/1/07 to 5/31/07. CITI In 2007, Citi also offered to plant a tree for each credit card holder who switched. In Q1 2007, it had over 300,000 consumers opt in. BANK OF AMERICA In 2006, Bank of America donated $1 per account to The Nature Conservancy’s “Save a Tree, Conserve a Forest” program with a total donation not to exceed $500,000. In a previous campaign, Bank of America offered the option of $5 one- time compensation or contribution to a conservation fund. VERIZON In 2006, Verizon began offering a three-month trial period where customers could receive both an e-bill and a paper bill. It saw a double-digit increase in the average number of e-bills activated each day. Over 75% of people who signed up for the trial ended up suppressing paper bills at some point during the trial period.
  • 5. GO PAPERLESS | .04 WHAT’S WORKING OFFER HISTORICAL DATA Many consumers don’t even look at their paper statements when they receive them, but they keep them for future reference. Access to historical data is very important to consumers. If consumers can’t easily access at least 18 months of historical data, they’re not likely to sign up. INCREASED FUNCTIONALITY Notify customers when their online statements are ready for viewing. This is a big hurdle for a lot of consumers. Also, to really encourage adoption, paperless statements should offer more functionality than paper ones. Give consumers a reason to want to sign up. EFFECTIVE MESSAGING AND PROMOTIONS Emphasize convenience and security. Paperless statements actually reduce the risk of identity theft. But, consumers don’t perceive that to be true. Offer a sign-up incentive. Consumers know that it costs you $0.75 - $2.00 for each statement you mail. They’d like to see a piece of the action. Effective incentives can be simple rewards or tied to cause-based initiatives.
  • 6. GO PAPERLESS | .05 WHY STOP WITH STATEMENTS? ECO-FRIENDLY CAN MEAN ECO-DIFFERENTIATION Consumer awareness of environmental issues is at an all-time high. Forrester Research estimates that 12% of U.S. adults (25 million people) are willing to pay more for greener products or for goods and services provided by environmentally- responsible companies. It also estimates that another 41% (90 million people) are on the cusp of similar behavior. Your bank can differentiate and win new accounts by developing sustainable business practices and environmentally-friendly initiatives now. But, consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of “green” marketing statements, and the time to capitalize is short. In fact, Forrester analyst Christopher Mines estimates a two- to three-year window of time for companies to differentiate themselves based on greener internal operations and services. Within three years, sustainable business practices will become an expectation of all businesses.
  • 7. GO PAPERLESS | .06 SOURCES Business World. “Citibank invites clients to go paperless with e-statements.” January 2008. Credit Union Journal. “Study Examines Motivators In Moving To Paperless Statements.” Vol. 10. February 2006. Flint, Michelle. “Trial Period Helps More Verizon Customers Accept Paperless Billing.” www.billingworld.com. May 2007. Green, Jeffrey. “I’d Go ‘Green,’ If I could.” Editor’s Letter. Vol. 20. www.cardforum.com. August 2007. PR Newswire. Various press releases. March 2006 - April 2007. Weston, Liz Pullam. “Go paperless for safer banking.” www.moneycentral.msn.com. August 2007.
  • 8. WE ARE A STRATEGIC DESIGN FIRM. No, not that kind. We don’t work with blueprints, floral arrangements, industrial machinery or red-carpet gowns. For over 35 years, we’ve helped create brands and the communications materials that grow them. We take a brand and give it a personality; a voice; a visual language. WE MAKE BRANDS STAND OUT. 614.486.0286 WWW.MLICKI.COM ©2008, Mlicki, Inc. All Rights Reserved.