Infographic: Utility perceptions on mobile billing, payments

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Smartphone growth is astronomical, and the time is now for utilities to implement mobile billing and payment systems. As of spring 2012, about 11 percent of U.S. utilities had formalized and deployed a mobile billing and payment system, according to Fiserv data.

Word cloud showing how U.S. utilities describe mobile billing and payments. View the full-size graphic. Credit: Fiserv.

This percentage is only expected to grow, according to a recent Fiserv benchmarking study, which polled dozens of utilities on their priorities and found that mobile was right at the top of the list. Nearly two-thirds of respondents identified mobile devices as the "wave of the future" in terms of their potential to help serve customers.

At the broadest level, mobile devices allow for the development of a much more intimate customer relationship with the utility. Utilities can receive payments faster and more reliably, drive paperless billing adoption and become a one-stop shop for customers.  

"You're basically carrying around a customer service representative of that utility company in your pocket," said Eric Leiserson, a senior research analyst at Fiserv, in an interview with FierceEnergy.

Benefits aside, mobile also has a host of problems, including security and maintenance challenges. In addition, more than 75 percent of benchmarking respondents identified financial issues such as achieving a positive return on investment as a top concern when looking to implement a complicated mobile payment system.

But the bottom line is that mobile device growth is not slowing down, and utilities must act quickly to get up to speed.

"It all shows that it's necessary to offer consumers convenient, easy, efficient and innovative options," Leiserson said.

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