BMO rolls out photo-based autopay feature

Bank of Montreal is rolling out a new feature that allows customers to pay bills without having to log into their online bank accounts.

Earlier this month the bank launched BMO QuickPay, through which customers can take a picture of their bill and email it to BMO. Upon receipt of the bill and a confirmation of the details with the customer through a text message, the bank automatically pays the biller. It’s a move that’s intended to remove customer anxiety around bill payments, Peter Poon, head of digital product management at BMO, told Bank Innovation.

Customers can email BMO a picture of their bill.

“Banks have done a great job focusing on their websites and app experiences,” Poon said. “But the overall journey actually begins with the bill statement.” According to the bank, 87% of customers pay at least one late bill each year, highlighting the ongoing friction around bill payments.

BMO QuickPay was designed for customers to pay high-volume billers such as wireless providers and utilities companies. If customers want to add a biller not currently on the BMO network, they can send a paper bill to BMO, which the bank will use to onboard it. The feature is only available in Canada for now, but the bank plans to roll QuickPay out to American customers through its U.S. subsidiary, BMO Harris, in the future. 

The bank only accepts bills from the email address associated with customers’ profiles, a move to combat fraud. The bank reimburses customers for losses from unauthorized transactions. Poon said the text confirmation ensures customers have control over which payments are being debited out of their bank accounts.

BMO customers confirm the payment through a text.

BMO is launching QuickPay as other companies are working to make bill payments more convenient. Paytm Canada, for example, allows users to pay billers from its platform, and it rewards users with points for making bill payments. In the United States, Doxo allows users to set up automatic payments for a variety of bills, and users can choose between different payment methods.

See also: Schack: Expanded BMO Harris Innovation Program Casts Wider Net for Ideas

The launch of BMO QuickPay comes as the bank is trying to overhaul its mobile offerings. In July, BMO launched a mobile loan application tool. The bank also introduced a virtual assistant for Facebook Messenger last year called BMO Bolt, which answers common banking questions. 

Tony DeSanctis, senior director at Cornerstone Advisors, said that while BMO’s tool wouldn’t likely revolutionize how consumers pay bills, it could make the experience more convenient for customers in some cases. As for security risks, he noted that the text verification method is not necessarily more or less risky than other fraud mitigation measures.

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