A study by BillingTree found 2015 to be the first year where no discernible difference could be seen in online payment technology adoption by agency size.
The survey also found that collection agencies—also known as “accounts receivable management” companies—once again cited compliance as their top concern, with compliance during agent-assisted transactions offering fresh regulatory challenges. Additionally, unclear guidelines on emerging technologies, such as the presentation, authorization, and storage of electronic documents under Reg E/E-sign continue to cause anxiety.
More than 200 collection agencies of various sizes took the survey in February 2015.
Technology preferences and practices
While lock boxes for cash and checks are still in use by 29.6% of respondents, the adoption of automated payment technology looks set to dramatically increase over the next year.
Nearly five times more agencies plan to adopt virtual agent/negotiation technology—24% in 2015 compared with 5% in 2014. Similarly 32% of agencies are looking to incorporate interactive voice response over the coming year, nearly double the 18% in last year's survey.
Consistent with previous year's surveys, the industry is still divided on the practice of collecting convenience fees for accepting electronic payments. Nearly half (48%) either currently charge a fee or are planning to accept them—while the remaining 52% either have no plans to or have stopped charging fees.
The survey also measured agency work by industry, revealing healthcare to be the leading source followed by retail, bank card, auto finance, and then all others. In addition, agency acceptance of medical savings and spending accounts (HSA/FSA) was gauged finding only 34% currently able to accept these cards with another 35% interested in or looking to accept in the future.