Four out of five U.S. households with Internet access now bank online, suggest the results of a Fiserv Inc. survey released May 25.

The Consumer Billing and Payment Trends study, in which Fiserv in January surveyed online 3,029 U.S. consumers age 21 and older, also found continued growth in online bill payment and use of electronic bills. The data also suggest the online bill-payment population has changed significantly during the past nine years, Geoff Knapp, Fiserv vice president, online banking and consumer insights, tells PaymentsSource.

Nearly 72.5 million U.S. households with Internet access, or 80% of total households, now bank online, up 4% from 69.7 million that did in February 2009, when Fiserv conducted its previous trends survey. Nearly 36.4 million households pay bills online, up 11.7% from 32.6 million a year ago.

Women have edged out men as the primary payers of bills online. In 2002, men represented 61% of bill payers online, and they represented the majority in 2009. This year, women represent 51% of online bill payers.

In terms of demographics, online bill payment has moved into the mainstream and is not used just by young or tech-savvy consumers. This year, consumers ages 21 to 34 represent 28% of online bill payers, consumers ages 35 to 54 represent 48%, and those older than 55 represent 24%. In 2002, more than 50% of online bill payers were between ages 35 and 54.

Fiserv’s survey also found a decline in the use of paper checks and growth in electronic bills. Consumers now use paper checks to pay 26% of their bills; in 2000, checks represented 61% of all bill payments.

Consumers also now pay 45% of their bills online, up from 12% in 2000, according to the study. And the percentage of consumers who receive bills electronically has increased to 33% from 24% in 2009.

The evolution of online banking and bill payment also has produced deeper relationships between banks and customers because consumers who use the services tend to use more of the financial institutions’ products and offerings, according to Knapp.

Consumers who bank and pay bills online generate more revenue for financial institutions because the more services and products they use, the more invested they are with the institution and the less likely they are to leave, according to Fiserv.

This year, 13% of consumers who use online banking are more likely than the average customer to have a savings account at the same institution, up from 8% who were in 2005. And nearly half of respondents who pay bills online said they were less likely to switch institutions because of their positive experience with the service.

Fiserv’s survey also looked at the growth in such new areas as mobile banking and person-to-person payments. This year, 30% of respondents with mobile phones conducted one or more banking services using their phones, up from 23% who did in 2008. The percentage of mobile-banking users who receive or pay bills using their phones jumped to 30% this year from 18% in 2008, primarily because more consumers have smartphones, Fiserv says.

More than half of respondents who sent funds to friends, family or others used an online payment service, the survey found. No comparative data were available.

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