Based on the things that are happening now, it is possible to forecast (with a certain degree of accuracy) what the future of phone bill payments is likely to be. For sure, we don’t claim to have a crystal ball through which we can foresee the future. But we can look at the current trends, and through them, have a pretty clear idea of what the future trends are likely to be. Admittedly, some disruptive technologies may come up at some point, pushing phone bill payments in a direction we can’t foresee now. Like 20 years ago, it was impossible to foresee the present proliferation of smart-phones. With the smart-phones have come bill payment options that were unimaginable just 20 years ago. And we don’t know what other disruptive thing(s) may be coming up in the future. But the predictions we will be making here are based on the assumption that the current trends will hold. Hence in the near future, we are likely to see:
More online payments
For one, it is easy to foresee a future where more and more of the phone bill payments will be done online. Presently, we still have individuals who make their bill payments by phone. We have others who still write paper-checks to pay their phone bills. And we have others still who prefer to visit the phone carriers’ offices and pay hard cash. But as more and more people get comfortable with the idea of making payments online, we are likely to see a paradigm shift: where majority of the mobile phone bill payments would be made online. Already, if you compare the number of people who are paying their phone bills online today with those who were doing so just 10 years ago, you will notice a great deal of difference. You will notice that there has been an exponential growth in the number of people who pay their phone bills online. Now based on that trend, you can project what the future is likely to look like — and it becomes clear that in the near future, online phone bill payments will be the norm rather than the exception.
Phone bill payment apps
Already, most of the major phone carriers have apps through which their customers can pay their phone bills. And the number of phone users who are opting to pay their bills through such apps is growing by the day. It is easy to foresee a future where a very sizable percentage of phone users will be paying their phone bills through the apps. In fact, the battle of the future is likely to be between online payments and app-based payments. But the apps seem to have an edge over the online system. See, the online payment system typically entails launching a browser, going to the payment portal, and entering the payment details to complete the transaction. App-based payments, on the other hand, tend to be more convenient: as it is just a question of launching the app from your smart-phone, clicking on the payments option, entering a few details and completing the transaction.
More automatic bill payments
It is also possible to foresee a future where more and more of the phone users will be signing up for automatic bill pay arrangements. There is a trend where phone carriers are giving people incentives to sign up for automatic bill pay. That is specifically an arrangement where the customers who agree to sign up for automatic bill payments are given discounts. If this trend continues, we may end up with very sizable percentages of phone users signing up for such automatic bill payments. In any event, more and more people are coming to the realization that signing up for automatic bill payments is in their best interest.
Greater adoption of prepaid phone plans
Whereas most of the people are presently on postpaid plans (where they pay monthly phone bills), we are likely to see more people opting for prepaid plans. That is because the prepaid plans, especially the ones that are under the ‘pay as you go’ scheme, offer people greater control over the amounts of money they spent on phone bills. Therefore as more and more people see and understand the money-saving potential in such plans, they are likely to sign up for them. It is worth remembering that the current post-paid arrangement usually entails people paying their phone bills on a monthly basis. Yet there are people who would prefer more flexible phone bill payment arrangements. So that is where the ‘pay as you go’ prepaid phone plans are likely to come in – as people seek greater flexibility in the payment of their phone bills.
Adoption of crypto-currencies in phone bill payments
We may also be looking at a future where more and more people would be opting to pay their phone bills using crypto-currencies. Currently, there are very few (if any) phone carriers who accept payments through the crypto-currencies. And this is understandable, given the fact that the crypto-currencies are yet to go mainstream. But as the crypto-currencies become more and more ‘mainstream’ it is not hard to foresee a future where the phone carriers would start accepting bill payments through such currencies. Then a point may eventually come where majority of the people would actually be making their phone bill payments through the crypto-currencies.
Of course (and to reiterate), this scenario is only likely to play out if the crypto-currencies are mainstreamed. Frankly, it is hard to tell whether the crypto-currencies are moving towards the mainstream. So it is hard to tell whether there will be greater (or lesser) adoption of the crypto-currencies in the future. But if at all the crypto-currencies move towards the mainstream, a point will have to come when the phone carriers would start accepting payments through such currencies. Once we are at that point, we are likely to see a sizable percentage of people paying their bills through such currencies. As it stands, there are probably many individuals who would desire to pay their phone bills through crypto-currencies – were it not for the fact that the phone carriers don’t accept such payments. So it is easy to see what would happen, were the phone carriers to start accepting payments through crypto-currencies.