Civic News
Environment / Municipal government / Technology

Baltimore’s new mobile bill pay isn’t only aimed at the demographic you think

The city's new system for paying water bills and traffic tickets is great for millennials, sure, but the "underbanked" population uses it a lot, too.

Taking another step into the 21st century, Baltimore city government now has an online system for residents to pay some city bills. The new capability is the result of a partnership with Global Express, a subsidiary of the bill-pay kiosk company TIO Networks.
Using this website, residents can pay their water bills and traffic tickets on mobile devices. Along with visiting the link, there’s also the option to scan a QR (Quick Response) code that takes residents directly to the page.
The new capability is part of a set of tech-oriented upgrades to modernize the city’s ways of doing business, which has been heavily focused around the water system.

You're seeing more penetration with the underbanked group, which typically have a lower combined income.

Prior to the mobile deal, Global Express already had a partnership with the city to accept payments at its walkup bill-pay kiosks around the city.
The mobile-oriented system was launched Dec. 19, but the city is beginning to advertise it more heavily now that a soft-launch phase to work out issues is complete.
Given the past partnership, “It was a no-brainer,” TIO Networks CEO Hamed Shahbazi told Baltimore.
In announcing the upgrades, city officials said the new system is designed to cater to members of the smartphone-obsessed generation you’d probably assume it is.
“This new mobile payment option will be particularly appealing for our millennial customers who prefer to do everything with their smartphones,” Janice Simmons, chief of the Bureau of Revenue Collections for the Baltimore City Department of Finance, said in a statement.
According to Shahbazi, however, it’s also designed to help “underbanked” people, who tend to be lower income and use services like payday lenders, or don’t have a bank account at all.
“They’re using the mobile phone like a desktop computer,” Shahbazi said. “You’re seeing more penetration with the underbanked group, which typically have a lower combined income.”
And, Shabazi said, that trend is playing out everywhere — not just in Baltimore.

Companies: City of Baltimore

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