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In a digital world, paper checks just don’t cut it

The global digital payments market is expected to reach a $6.7 trillion value with more than 6.1 billion people using them by 2023. Consumers are driving a revolution in digital payments and organizations across industries are challenged to meet customer expectations or lose out on their business. Plus, the cost and complexity of connecting to disparate legacy systems can get in the way –– especially in the current economy. With recent events such as the Great Resignation, student debt relief, and the Inflation Reduction Act announced, finances and rising inflation are front of mind for consumers and organizations more than ever. As a result, organizations are looking for ways to cut costs and optimize operations while keeping up with modern experience expectations, which include increasing demand for immediate disbursement.

Imagine then, if you could provide faster, more secure disbursement options directly to end-users in a way that both boosts your operational efficiencies and creates better outcomes for your organization, consumers and constituents alike. In this blog, we’ll explore how a robust digital payment solution can take old, manual payment processes that used to take weeks, to only taking a few minutes for multiple industries from life sciences and consumer goods, to healthcare, to government functions, and more.  

Paper checks can cost more than you think 

For some organizations, mailing physical checks can cost up to $20 per check with an average processing time of 10 days. Understanding this process can be stressful and confusing for consumers, making it a slow, costly process for the organizations issuing payments. Beyond just printing, processing and mailing a check, sometimes this process also requires collecting consumer banking information, updated mailing address information and more.

This can leave organizations open to risk from fraud and escheatment. Maybe the consumer lost their check or forgot to deposit it. It’s up to the paying organization to track that down, stop payment, send another check, send reminders to the consumer to deposit, train call center teams to field inbound questions and basically, hope for the best. With some organizations sending thousands of checks a year, it’s easy to see how that $20 per check can quickly add up. 

Consumer expectations for digital payments continue to rise  

Then there’s the shift in consumer expectations around payments for organizations to consider. In the period between 2021 and 2022, the number of American consumers using digital payments has increased to 82% –– fast becoming the norm for sending and receiving funds. Consumers are quickly becoming used to the idea of using their phones, watches and other devices with digital wallets for payments, refunds and reimbursements because it’s faster and easier.

Meanwhile, 65% of consumers also believe digital payments are more secure. For organizations adopting digital payments, a process that used to take weeks, sometimes even months, can now happen almost instantly across devices versus mailing a paper check. With a real-time, integrated digital payments solution, all the complexity and third-party coordination disappear in favor of a streamlined process that can look like this:  

Payments and disbursements are a necessary part of the day-to-day operations for nearly any organization. An integrated payment hub solution equips your organization with the ability to disburse more payments with no manual intervention. No more collecting routing information, no more follow-up calls. No more onerous escheatment processes. Everything is automated and updated in real-time for a fast, secure payment process that can apply across almost any industry to improve experiences and outcomes. Below are just a few examples.  


Applications across industries: 

  • Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences (over-the-counter pharmaceutical refunds, patient reimbursement during clinical trials):  
    Every day, pharma and life science companies send refunds and disbursements to consumers for products or participation in clinical trials. A comprehensive digital payments solution can help these organizations be proactive in anticipating the preferences of today’s consumers. In this scenario, when a consumer requests a refund, the payments partner collects their contact information (email, phone number and address). Then, through smart payment technology, a digital payment is enabled for origination and the consumer receives the payment to their account along with a text or email notification. Lastly, the payments partner receives the payment status for reconciliation –– all communicated via a simple application protocol interface (API). The company can now move much faster.  

  • Insurance claims:
    68% of consumers prefer to receive insurance payments electronically. But historically, the bulk of claims processing includes a long paper trail of check disbursals and other documentation between insurers and claimants. Speed here is critical for providing a smooth experience that helps alleviate the claimant’s stress around the nature of their claim as well as fostering loyalty. A digital integrated payments solution can remove the need for manual intervention including weeks of follow-up phone calls for your organization. With real-time tracking and reconciliation, payment status can be monitored and updated by both insurers and claimants anytime, anywhere. For insurance companies, this added transparency and certainty can lead to significantly lowered costs and increased cash flow with less time to get funds to consumers. 

  • Healthcare: 
    Member expectations for virtual and hybrid care models are on the rise. As part of that shift, members also expect to receive reimbursement on a claim or to refund themselves from a consumer-directed healthcare account in a seamless and immediate manner. With an integrated payments hub, healthcare organizations can make this easier with data curated and organized in one portal. This enables members to access, understand and manage their accounts in a timely fashion, thereby making the healthcare experience more satisfying so that your organization can become their trusted provider of choice. 

  • State and local government: 
    The COVID pandemic accelerated the use and acceptance of digital payments exponentially, highlighting the opportunity for government entities to provide additional secure digital payment disbursement options to meet constituent demands while reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. Existing electronic disbursement methods, like the Way2Go Card or traditional ACH transfers, will continue to be standard offerings that provide flexibility. As a companion to these digital payment options, disbursements can be taken to the next level by allowing you to disburse funds to constituents instantly and electronically using a token (phone number, email address, etc.) without requiring any sensitive information such as a routing and account number. This addition to the suite of payment capabilities offers states and recipients added flexibility to meet their individual needs and preferences. Using disaster assistance as an example, after a flood, hurricane, or wildfire, recipients aren’t usually at a specific address, but they need help fast. Digital payments ensure that critical funds reach people when they most need them –– wherever they are.  

The solution to providing organizations with secure access to real-time payment capabilities exists today. Through a digital integrated payments hub, which technically integrates systems through a simple API, disbursements can be delivered and reconciled in minutes with automatic alerts to the consumer and your organization. Conduent solutions and services can help you improve your business process, empower your people, and enhance experiences.

To learn more about enabling your organization with a fast, secure and streamlined method for collecting and distributing payments for a seamless transformation that meets modern consumer needs, visit our Digital Integrated Payments Hub page.  

About the Author

Kathy Mertes joined Conduent in early 2022 as Executive Leader of Conduent’s Digital Payments Strategy and Solution. In keeping with Conduent’s corporate strategy, she is shaping the transformational role that payments can bring to Conduent’s enterprise suite of solutions by removing payment friction in a comprehensive, innovative fashion. In her nearly 30 years in the industry, Kathy has coupled her banking expertise with client needs in a wide range of industries from government, corporate, healthcare and beyond –– spanning credit card fraud prevention, innovating consumer payments at a top National University, leading product and operational responsibilities for money markets and asset management accounts at a brokerage firm. Most recently, Kathy has led key strategic teams at BNY Mellon Treasury Services. Kathy has been a featured speaker at various key industry events such as NACHA and IBTTA and is pleased to provide leadership as a member of The Clearing House (TCH) Corporate Advisory Group.

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