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Innovating the way we pay

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We live in a world of ‘payment innovation’. Increasingly, consumers expect to be able to pay for goods and services via the method most suited to them. They want options that fit seamlessly into their busy lives and work around their individual budget constraints. The key requirement, as far as the consumer is concerned, is flexibility. The flexibility to pay how they want and when they want (within the parameters of bill payment cycles).

76% of consumers use more than one method to pay monthly bills. What’s more, one in five consumers change their method of payment, for the same provider, from bill cycle to bill cycle. This is due to the availability of funds, payment due dates and the impact the total amount of the bill will have on the consumers weekly or monthly budget. So flexibility is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a ‘must have’.

Providing this flexibility are innovations we’re all familiar with. These include online customer billing portals and payment gateways such as PayPal, which ensure safe and secure transactions online. The use of QR codes and one click payments mean that payment details are pre-populated, eliminating the need to fill out online forms and reducing the time needed to pay a bill to just seconds.

Of course it’s the rise of the smart phone that has been the catalyst for changing the way that consumers pay for everyday good and services. The smart phone and subsequent dedicated apps allow consumers to access their money and pay bills while relaxing at the beach, at dinner or at the footy. All this is a world away from the good old days of queuing in banks or post offices to make payments.

Service companies such as banks and financial institutions, energy retailers and telcos have to keep up with these expectations or risk their customers churning to a competitor who can. Blue Star Direct’s innovative approach to payment is all about flexibility. We can offer our clients’ customers a multitude of ways to pay, on their terms, via the device that suits them, when it suits them (within the restrictions of the payment period).

But it doesn’t stop there. The payment innovation business is fast-moving and there are a plethora of game changing technologies on the horizon. In Australia, we’re currently only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to payment innovation.

Mobile Photo Bill Pay enables consumers to pay a bill by snapping a picture of the bill on their smart phone. This method is in its infancy but early indications are that take up is faster than the adoption of online bill pay, way back when. This is proof of consumer’s easy acceptance of new technologies to meet their need for flexibility. In the US, San Diego County Credit Union recently implemented Mobile Photo Bill Pay to allow customers to transfer credit card balances from competitor accounts (source: bankinnovation.net).

We’re all familiar with the contactless technology which allows consumers to ‘tap and go’ when making payments in store for $100 or less. A further application of this technology (known as a Near Field Communications or NFC payment system) to consumer’s mobile phones, sees smart phones with chips that emulate the contactless technology in our cards, meaning that consumers can link their phone with their bank account and swipe at pay stations in the same way.

Google, not to be left out in the cold, have successfully launched Google Wallet. When a consumer pays with Google Wallet, Google itself pays the merchant, and the consumer’s credit card data is processed from Google’s database.

At Blue Star Direct we’re working on a Paypal offering which operates via a consumer’s smart phone. It allows consumers to pay for everyday items via Paypal, while they’re out and about. This enables Blue Star Direct to take our client’s into an exciting territory whereby the consumer is driving their own shopping experience.

Programs that allow consumers to shop, with the billing linked directly to their mobile phone bill are another development within NFC. So essentially, the cost of a consumer’s groceries (or whatever it may be) shows up on their phone bill and payment is made via the telco provider. This technology currently operates successfully in the US so it’s really only a matter of time before it hits the Aussie market.

It seems that everyone wants a piece of the action. On 23 September 2013, Facebook launched ‘Autofill with Facebook’, a mobile payments service that allows consumers to pay for products on their smart phones with just their Facebook credentials. Payments are made via the credit card linked to their Facebook account. To date, the service is in test phase and the launch hasn’t been widely publicised.

With all of these methods either already in place overseas or being developed, tested and refined it may be speculated that we’re well on the way to a cashless society.

At Blue Star Direct we’re working to be at the forefront of these latest innovations. Consumers are taking businesses on a journey and they’re very much in the driving seat. At Blue Star Direct we aim to be one step ahead in meeting the needs of an ever more sophisticated consumer set and provide our clients with the smarts to pave the way in payment innovation.

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