Esurance recently conducted mobile-device usability tests with customers, and we heard that they definitely want more flexibility in bill payments on a mobile device -- they want the ability to choose the amount that they pay and the flexibility to pay their bills at any time, rather than on the due date. They also want the ability to choose their method of payment, and they want digital reminders -- via text-message or email notifications -- so they know when payments are due.
Mobile payments are advantageous at several points in the insurance value chain. If customers go to a car dealer to purchase a car, they have an immediate need to purchase a policy. Mobile payments can meet this need, enabling them to purchase a policy via a mobile device and drive their cars off the lot right then and there. Near-field communication (NFC) technology and other developing technologies such as Square present some intriguing options. These technologies, which link to financial accounts, could allow users to swipe their phones at one of Esurance's E-star repair shops to pay for repairs. This would eliminate the need to issue checks and would streamline the process for both the carrier and the repair shop, all of which translats into an easier, more convenient experience for the customer.
Unfortunately, there are a still a number of obstacles holding the adoption of mobile payments back. The infrastructure requirements and security challenges must be addressed. What's more, many consumers aren't quite convinced that mobile sites are safe. And none of the functionality matters unless the transactions themselves are secure. Ensuring users feel comfortable with making a payment or purchasing with their mobile devices is among the biggest obstacles.
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio