By Mia Papanicolaou, COO of Striata
Moving customers from paper billing and offline payment options to electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) is an attractive proposition for companies wanting to enhance customer experience, while achieving significant operational cost savings and reducing days sales outstanding (DSO).
EBPP also holds advantages for consumers who prefer the convenience of receiving and paying bills electronically. In its 7th Annual Billing Household Survey , Fiserv found that having multiple ways to receive and pay a bill improved a customer’s experience and almost half of the recipients said receiving paperless bills increased their satisfaction levels. The study also found that the growth in electronic bill payment, from mobile devices specifically, increased by 450 percent over a four year period.
But as with any new technology or process adoption, the migration to receiving and paying bills electronically may be introducing new security risks that need to be addressed to avoid detracting from the obvious benefits. Applying electronic billing and payment principles to outdated technology and analog processes is a makeshift solution that doesn’t work in the long term and could introduce security risks.
Security Risk #1 – Sending Documents
The digitization of bill presentment requires that the information inside the document is secured. Merely creating an electronic version available for download or to be sent via email, without securing the document if it holds valuable customer information, can inadvertently introduce security risks that increase the opportunity for hackers to intercept and exploit identification information or banking details. Each individual document should be encrypted—especially in transit—to help protect customer information.
Security Risk #2 – Storing Documents
In the analog world, saving a printed statement safely means the sender and recipient most likely store it in a file somewhere in the office or home. With the digitization of billing and payment processes, there is a load of valuable data and millions of documents that now exist in various online locations that have to be accessible via the Internet. Encryption and security around those stored documents is imperative as a way to help protect customers’ personal information inside those documents.
Security Risk #3 – Payment
While trying to repurpose existing processes to facilitate digital requirements, companies may be unwittingly endorsing risky online behavior, which in turn creates easy victims for fraud scams. If an EBPP initiative does not start with the customer’s experience and safety in mind, it may end up teaching customers to trust a process that is easily mimicked by cyber criminals. One such example is sending a billing notification to customers with a link for them to go online and pay—a process that is simple to copy and allows fraudsters to gain payment credentials.
To avoid introducing these security risks when moving to an electronic billing and payment process, businesses must fully commit to entering the digital age, rather than attempt to adapt old-school thinking or modify legacy technology. Any system or process that cannot adequately cater for the latest devices, practices and interfaces that will dominate the digital future, will be irrelevant and risky.
Anyone embarking on an EPBB initiative should start by defining the desired customer experience across all channels. It is no longer appropriate to tout internal efficiencies or compliance obligations as the ultimate goal. In order to fully realize the advantages of EBPP, the biller must leverage the many different channels that are available to deliver or present documents by selecting a document storage solution that can serve any format of document to any channel, in a secure manner.
Fortunately, there are digital document management systems built with security, efficiency and control at the core, rather than tacked onto a system which was built on old-school thinking around indexing and retrieval. Moreover, given some of the latest innovations in the marketplace, companies can now tap into solutions that provide them with multiple layers of document protection (not just one or two layers) as this is critical in today’s digital environment. Companies can also take advantage of solutions that provide protection beyond the network and database level, so even if the document itself gets compromised, the data contained therein will be safeguarded and encrypted.
As data security concerns continue to rise across numerous industries, so too are services and approaches to protecting data and blocking cyber attacks evolving. This is why organizations need to stay abreast of the latest technologies and invest in the right solutions that will keep their data better protected today, as well as in the future.
Mia Papanicolaou is Chief Operating Officer for document security specialist, Striata Inc. Mia joined Striata in 2006 and having worked in Africa and the U.K., now heads up North, Central and South American operations. Papanicolaou is a regular speaker on her areas of expertise—secure electronic document delivery and email marketing. Striata technology is used to secure, send and store confidential documents for the world’s largest financial services, utility, insurance, retail and telecommunications companies.