Americans paid about $4.1 trillion in 2016 to settle 13 common bills that form the foundation of day-to-day living and a typical borrowing relationship — and digital payments accounted for 73% of the dollar volume. The continuing decline in mailed payments is welcome news to financial institutions, billers, fintech vendors, and innovative players in the bill payment arena. But in most cases, Americans are choosing to pay bills through a bank or credit union, pay billers directly one by one, or blend the two approaches. Consumers are sending numerous signals that the benefits of paying billers one by one often outweigh the benefits of orchestrating bill payments through a bank or credit union. Nonetheless, Javelin’s data counters common hypotheses 1) that FI bill pay is “losing” to the biller direct model, and 2) that Millennials will permanently shift the balance in favor of paying billers directly. For starters, FIs handled a much bigger share of the $3 trillion in digital payments through FIs, billers, and third-party apps. In addition, age plays less of a role than income, the number of bills a consumer owes, and the desire for an experience that is fast, simple, and secure and builds financial confidence. Together, these factors underscore why FIs, billers, digital banking vendors, and innovative third-party apps have different strategic challenges and opportunities for partnering.

Key questions discussed in this report: 

  • How big is the market for key bills managed through FI bill pay, paid directly to billers, or through third-party apps?
  • What are the trends in payments funneled through online or mobile channels vs. mail, walk-in, and call center payments?
  • How big is the mobile bill payment market for FIs and billers?
  • Will P2P services such as Venmo and Zelle alter bill payment habits?
  • Will Millennials permanently swing more payments to billers directly at the expense of FI bill pay?
  • Is there an important gap between the way Americans pay bills today vs. the way they would prefer to pay bills?

Companies Mentioned: Bank of America, Citibank, Credit Karma, Facebook, Finovera, Fiserv, Handle, Inlet Digital, Jack Henry, Mint, Q2, Square,Venmo, Wells Fargo, Zelle


The consumer data in this report is based primarily on information collected in a random-sample panel of 3,200 consumers in an online survey conducted in October 2016. The overall margin of sampling error is ±1.74 at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error is larger for subsets.

Analysis by Size of FI

The analysis of FIs by size was based on where consumers maintain their primary banking relationship. FIs were divided into four categories determined by total deposits according to rankings by American Banker:

  • Giant banks: deposits greater than $750 billion (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo)
  • Regional banks: from $30 billion to $750 billion in deposits
  • Community and small regional banks: less than $30 billion in deposits
  • Credit unions