Online Banking Makes Customers Happy

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A new study out from the National Automated Clearing House Association claims that the more online banking you do, the happier you’re likely to be. It’s all about ridding your world of physical clutter, and psychologists say online banking is a great way to accomplish just that.

Here’s the skinny: NACHA co-sponsored a study with the Web site PayItGreen.org to examine the satisfaction levels of customers who pay bills entirely online and those who pay via the traditional “check in the mail” approach.

Obviously, Pay It Green has a stake in this race – they want you pay your bills electronically (their tagline is Good for the Environment. Good for You.) The organization is a consortium of financial institutions that, according to the Web site, “is committed to educating consumers and businesses about the positive environmental impacts of choosing electronic payments, bills, and statements over paper. By choosing electronic payments, the amount of paper in circulation can be significantly reduced—which benefits the environment.”

So we ought to take the study’s findings with a grain of salt. But even so, it draws a helpful picture of how consumers feel about getting – and paying – their bank and financial bills online versus in the mail.

The conclusion? The study says that financial consumers who receive their bills via U.S. mail are 10% less happy than those who conduct all their billing online.

Not surprisingly, younger financial consumers have been more inclined to pay their bills electronically, while older Americans are slower to embrace the online-only approach. The study says that consumers aged 55 to 64 “lag farthest behind in paperless statement adoption at 20 percent, and twice as many 25- to 34-year-olds have gone paperless.”

Other key conclusions from the study include:

  • Consumers are less satisfied with their financial institutions when they receive statements by mail. Only 11% of consumers who receive all their financial statements digitally are dissatisfied with or neutral about their financial institutions, compared to 21% of those who receive everything by mail.
  • Minimalism is the key motivation for going paperless. The top reasons respondents said they receive electronic statements were because they’re easy to access online (62%), to “reduce clutter” (50%) and to eliminate paper waste (49%).
  • Six out of 10 respondents were open to or neutral about automatic shutoff of paper statements once they start paying and/or reviewing bills online.
  • The most common bills delivered to consumers exclusively in electronic form are mobile phone (49%), student loans (49%) and Internet (44%).
  • Utility companies lag behind in electronic billing adoption — electricity (33%), gas (32%), and water (24%) were among the least common bills that consumers received in online-only form.

The takeaway? It’s hardly a shock that a study handled by a pro-paperless financial consortium says that going green is the e-ticket to happiness. But by electing to have your bills delivered and paid electronically, you’re going to save a few trees in the process.

You can’t argue with that, can you?

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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