BillingTree is giving consumers a test drive of its systems for handling car payments electronically.

"In the 'buy here, pay here' market, or in the subprime market, you have a lot of people who pay by actually going to the dealer, often more than once a month, who may want the convenience of paying online or by a mobile device," says Marya Lang, director of corporate development and general manager of the auto finance market for BillingTree.

The company is running the Hands-On Payment Experience at a pair of auto finance industry events: This week at The National Alliance of Buy Here Pay Here Dealers in Las Vegas and May 28-30 at the National Automotive Finance Association's Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Visitors can make simulated auto loan or lease payments using tablets, an online portal, QR codes and interactive voice response. There's also a mobile app for making payments and sending reminders, plus payment portals that have been optimized for specific URLs and QR codes.

"The technology itself is not necessarily new, but it is to buyers in these markets," Lang says. "I've found that if I say 'IVR' people often don't know what I mean. I didn't realize that was not a universal term. And IVR has been around for a long time."

While the demonstrations are aimed at consumers, merchants are also a target. BillingTree offers payments processing to auto merchants, and charges a fee based on volume of payments. Most of BillingTree's clients in the auto payments market are smaller dealers, and Lang says BillingTree is also in talks with a large prime auto finance company.

In the case where dealers have a large number of subprime borrowers, there can be a resistance to changing payment methods, Lang says.

"Many of these dealers actually like to see the borrowers come in to make a payment, and see the car that is the collateral for the loan," she says.

BillingTree counters those concerns by saying the technology can assist with PCI compliance and other risk management. BillingTree also reminds these dealers that personal check or cash payments can carry risks of their own, Lang says.

"Someone who sees a borrower often may give a seriously delinquent borrower a break and allow him or her to make a payment at a time when the dealer may have already gone into repossession and may not want a payment," Lang says.

The use of an interactive instruction center can help payment companies reach consumers with new technology, but it's only part of the battle, says Daniel Van Dyke, a research specialist at Javelin Strategy & Research

Other points of consideration for consumers include how the technology stacks up against options form other payment companies, he says. Ingenico supports auto payments via a partnership with CenPOS, for example.

"User experience is an important consideration, however others are critical, such as cost, customer support, integration with existing systems such as accounting and payroll, features such as loyalty and rewards, EMV compatibility, consumer inventory management, business analytics, sales tax, etc.," Van Dyke says.

BillingTree's auto payments system integrates with most accounting platforms that auto dealers use, and also enables dealers to provide perks and incentives to consumers, Lang says.

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