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Increased consumer access to the Internet, convenience and environmental concerns are driving growth in online bill payment, according to the results of a Fiserv Inc. online survey of 3.029 consumers released yesterday. The Marketing Workshop and Harris Interactive conducted the survey earlier this year for Fiserv, which provides financial-technology services to more than 3,000 financial institutions and 300 billing organizations. "High-speed Internet has become ubiquitous," says Geoff Knapp, Fiserv vice president of online banking and consumer insights. The widespread use of the Internet among all demographics is helping drive the use of online bill payment, not just the early technology adopters and affluent consumers who could afford early access to the Internet, he notes. More than 69.7 million households now use online-banking services, and 64.4 million pay at least one bill online, the survey data suggest. Of those surveyed, 79% said paying bills online was faster than other methods, 72% cited ease of use versus paying by check, 71% said they liked saving money on stamps, and 71% said paying bills online gave them more control over the timing of their payments. Respondents also considered environmental factors when choosing to receive and pay bills online. The survey found that 58% of responding e-bill users believe the environmental impact of paper bills is important, up from 51% who said so in a similar survey last year. Nearly 90% of respondents believed e-bills and electronic payments save paper, 74% said it saves landfill space, 62% said it reduces pollution and paper processing, and 59% said it saves energy. Though many consumers are moving to online-payment methods, other payment methods such as credit and debit cards are still among consumers' choices, Knapp notes. "Online bill payment dominates the [bill payment] channel , but there is still need for other payment methods," he says.

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