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Improving the Bill Pay Experience for the Unbanked and Underbanked

April 11, 2023

Having access to convenient and speedy automatic online payments is something most consumers take for granted. There are two big outliers - unbanked or underbanked consumers. They have effectively been left out in the cold, unable to take advantage of most of the technological advancements that make paying bills easier. With few options available to them, many are forced to rely on cash or prepaid cards to pay their bills. This is especially true of lower-income consumers. Even if they have bank accounts, they are more likely to pay in person and use cash but much less likely to set up automated bill payments or pay online. 

Lack of access to traditional banking products, or a preference for using cash shouldn’t mean a reduced customer experience. Below we describe a solution that allows you to effectively support your unbanked and underbanked customers and improve their bill pay experience.

Unbanked and Underbanked - There Are More Than You May Think

An estimated 4.5% or 5.9 million American households were unbanked in 2021. To be classified as unbanked, no person in a household has a checking or savings account at a bank or credit union. Efforts made to expand access to and increase trust in financial institutions may be starting to bear fruit. This is the lowest rate since the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households began in 2009. 

Underbanked consumers accounted for approximately 14.1% or 18.7 million U.S. households in 2021. While it’s easy to understand what unbanked means, underbanked is a bit more complex. An underbanked household has a bank account, but often rely on alternative financial services like money orders, check-cashing and payday loans to to meet their transaction and credit needs. 

Despite the drop in unbanked and underbanked households, this could still amount to thousands of your customers being left behind.

Why Are They Unbanked? 

Here are a few of the most common reasons a household is unbanked.

  • Lack of affordable financial products and services - According to a FDIC survey, 21.7% of unbanked consumers stated that they don’t have enough money to meet minimum balance requirements to qualify for a bank account.
  • Lack of trust - The same survey found that a lack of trust in banks was the second-most common reason at 13.2% of households without an account in 2021, followed by 8.4% of unbanked consumers who indicated avoiding a bank gave them more privacy.
  • Accessibility - Many unbanked and underbanked customers live in areas where traditional financial institutions like banks and credit unions are not as accessible. 

How the unbanked and underbanked pay their bills

81% of unbanked consumers pay their bills with cash or prepaid cards. The share of bills paid in cash by the underbanked is twice as high compared to fully banked consumers despite having access to a bank account. Regardless of whether it’s a need or a preference, your unbanked and underbanked customers deserve convenient cash-based options for bill payments. 

72,000+ Locations Accepting Cash Payments

Adding tier-one retail locations to your payment channels with KUBRA EZ-PAY® Retail Cash Payments makes cash payment options more accessible to the communities you serve. The KUBRA EZ-PAY RCP network currently has over 72,000 participating retailers throughout the United States, and the number continues to grow. The user-friendly and dynamic map assists customers with locating their ideal retail location, whether it’s at Walmart, CVS, 7Eleven, Walgreens, Family Dollar, or 14 other popular retailers.

The Benefits of KUBRA EZ-PAY Retail Cash Payments

Benefits for Customers

  • Ability to make cash payments when, where, and how they want.
  • More convenient locations to pay.
  • Quick, simple, and secure – no forms to fill out or government ID to provide.
  • No risk that personal information is compromised.
  • Access to electronic records online (mobile and desktop).

Benefits for Billers

    • Expand in-person cash payment acceptance beyond regular business hours at numerous locations without capital expenditure.
    • Increase customer satisfaction by accepting cash.
    • Reduce accounts receivables and the total cost of accepting and managing cash payments.
    • Streamline operations and reduce reconciliation and settlement challenges.
    • Offer a higher level of personal information protection.

    Diverse Bill Payment Options Should Include Cash 

    Whether it’s a lack of access to financial institutions, a general distrust of banks, or the fact that cash doesn’t come with any user fees, some of your customers want to (or have to) use cash for bill payments. This means missing out on easy-to-use digital payment solutions that many of us rely on today. Without additional options, these consumers are too often relegated to payment locations with limited hours in inconvenient areas. KUBRA EZ-PAY RCP gives customers that use cash better access to convenient bill payment choices by offering a retail cash payment option that’s open beyond regular business hours and offered at stores they currently frequent.

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