How this app could help ease the pain of paying bills

author-avatar By on May 07, 2021
How this app could help ease the pain of paying bills

Hate paying bills, either because you forget them, prefer to avoid direct debits, or don’t like to manually enter the details each time?

If so, you could consider downloading the mobile payments platform Sniip, a rather unique app that’s aiming to make paying bills quicker and easier for Australians.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is Sniip?

Sniip is a mobile app which allows bills to be digitally-scanned, stored and paid for via the app. Essentially, Sniip can scan the bill’s BPAY biller code, generating a digital bill that can be paid for through the app with the user’s stored payment method such as a credit or debit card. This saves the user from the tediousness of having to enter the biller code and account number manually, with Sniip boasting that the app lets you pay a bill in under 20 seconds.

Initially launched in Toowoomba back in 2014 by Founder and CEO Damien Vasta, Sniip has since established partnerships with Australia Post, BPAY, and also American Express. The app is unique as it is the first mobile payment solution to sit outside of the banking sector.

Sniipgif.gif

Source: Sniip

Customers can register to have all future bills sent straight to the app, such as:

  • Energy bills
  • Phone and internet bills
  • ATO tax bills
  • Rent and body corporate payments
  • Insurance – car, health, home and contents etc.
  • School fees
  • Rates and water
  • Car registration and more.

Sniip can connect with every financial institution and biller in Australia, and according to Mr Vasta, it represents the first real change to the payments landscape since BPAY decades earlier.

“When BPAY was introduced in 1997, its centralised online bill payment capabilities revolutionised bill payment for Australian consumers practically overnight,” he said.

“This new partnership and its bank and card-agnostic solution is designed to enhance this capability by providing Australians with a fast, simple, and seamless means to pay any bill through any bank and using any type of mobile.”

Essentially, Sniip was designed to minimise the number of steps required for a customer to pay and manage bills.

“The process is cumbersome and time-consuming and often very restrictive. We thought ‘if you can walk into a store and tap your phone or card against the terminal and make a quick payment, then why can't you do something of an equivalent nature against a piece of paper that is your bill?’” Mr Vasta told Savings.com.au.

“We want to be the default bill payment app for every single Australian bill.”

While it’s still some way off that ambitious goal, Sniip has so far acquired about 43,000 users and is growing by about 100 customers per day. In March 2021, $12 million worth of bills were processed through the app.

“We don't profess to make bill payments fun. What we say is we make them less unpleasant,” Mr Vasta said.

Related: See the best budgeting and savings apps in Australia

How does Sniip work?

While it might sound complicated, the easiest way to describe Sniip is to say it aggregates all payment and bank networks into one central place and lets you pay your bills from there. This means that with Sniip, you can also pay with whatever card or bank you like for whatever bill you like, regardless of any restrictions that normally exist.

“We consider ourselves to be the first customer-centric bill payments platform in the market, certainly from a mobile point of view,” Mr Vasta said.

“What if a customer has multiple accounts across different institutions and they want to switch between them in order to make a payment from one month to the next for the same biller? That's not customer-centric, that's bank-centric. 

“We've aggregated the billers through BPAY and we've aggregated the payment sources because you can use a debit card from any institution, you can use a credit card of any kind.”

How can you use Sniip?

Sniip is available to download on either Android or Apple phones from their respective app stores and is also compatible with Apple Pay (Google Pay is planned). It’s available on iOS devices 10 or later and Android versions 6.0 or later, and can be accessed via PIN, Touch ID and Face ID logins.

Is Sniip secure?

Sniip is secure to use, encrypting and safely storing all personal data. Credit/debit card information is only sent to verified third parties at the time of purchase. Once you make a payment, the app requires you to verify your identity with your PIN or ID login.

Can you earn rewards points with Sniip?

According to Sniip’s website, credit card users can still earn exactly the same number of rewards points they would earn through regular purchases and payments. Sniip also has a direct partnership with American Express, enabling Amex customers to access the American Express Offers Program for special discounts and cashback offers.

“Amex is the best at rewarding customers for making payments with their card, and an Amex customer typically has the money to pay that bill, but they want something more for that payment than just being able to actually give someone their money,” Mr Vasta said.

“We've opened up that whole Amex market to customers who want to not just buy things but pay for things with an Amex, and most billers or their bank don’t allow that.

“We've aggregated the whole BPAY biller network for those customers so that, irrespective of whether the bill allows an Amex payment or not or whether you can pay BPAY with an Amex in your banking app Sniip makes that all possible.”

American Express cards are typically charged a higher credit card surcharge, but because of Sniip’s partnership with Amex, it claims it can offer a surcharge of 1.5%, which is the same as Visa or Mastercard.

“We consider it to be the most attractive fee for an Amex card payment in the market when it comes to paying a bill.”

What features does Sniip have?

Aside from those already mentioned (bill consolidation, secure payments, and a central location for credit card reward points), Sniip also offers a variety of features like:

  • Automatic bill scanning (it can even read your emails and pull bills from there)
  • A transactions history showing all past bills and payments
  • PDF and document storage
  • Schedules, reminders, and push notifications, to help you never forget a bill

Sniipemail.jpg

Sniip lets you upload bills straight from your email or PDF file. Source: Sniip

“Why would someone use Sniip over their bank? Because they have choice,” Mr Vasta said.

“They can go from one bank to the next, from one card to the next; they can schedule a bill to be paid on the due date and not a day before, they can schedule the bill to make sure that they never miss an early payment discount or pay a late fee, they can pay it on the spot if they want to.”

Related: How regular reminders could save you thousands on your household bills.

Does Sniip cost anything to use?

Sniip does not charge any personal fees for customers to use it; the only costs incurred are those charged by the bank or credit card company for making payments, such as a surcharge. It’s also free to download.

“We want to be everything that you can do through a bank but more. If you're not interested in a credit card and you want to use a debit card, it will cost you nothing to use Sniip,” Mr Vasta said.

In fact, Sniip could actually save you money, whether that’s through no longer paying late fees, or by eliminating paper bill fees. These fees are commonly charged by phone, internet and energy providers, such as:

  • AGL: $1.75 per bill
  • Origin: $1.75 per bill
  • Energy Australia: $1.69 per bill
  • Elysian Energy: $3 per bill
  • Optus: $2.20 per bill
  • Telstra: $2 per bill

Automating your payments through Sniip can help you avoid these.

The savings accounts in the table below charge no fees.

Who can benefit the most from using Sniip?

Mr Vasta says Sniip has identified three key profiles of people who can benefit the most from Sniip:

  • The ‘Points Hunter’
  • The ‘Life Juggler’
  • The ‘Figure Out-er’

But According to Mr Vasta, Sniip has got something to offer every bill payer in Australia.

“We’ve built a platform that now is what I consider to be state of the art. You can use a debit card from any institution, you can use a credit card of any kind,” he said.

“We’re talking about minimising the number of steps required for a customer to pay a bill and giving them the ultimate choice as to how they pay. 

“Order where there's otherwise chaos: one central repository for receiving and paying.”

The ‘Points Hunter’

The points hunter isn’t an exclusive demographic to Sniip, but Mr Vasta says they’re someone who can get a lot of value out of it. Points hunters are those who use their credit cards for as many payments and bills as possible in order to maximise their rewards and frequent flyer points.

“They want to be able to get some type of reward for their spending, and that's what the whole loyalty scheme mentality is about: because they feel as though they're going to spend that much money, they would like something in return,” Mr Vasta said.

“If credit cards are used responsibly, they can still be an effective tool for managing finances.”

A common roadblock points hunters run into is not being able to use their card for certain things or not earning as many rewards points on some purchases - particularly Amex users. By consolidating every payment into Sniip and bypassing these restrictions, rewards card fans can potentially get better value from their plastic.

See also: 11 ways to maximise your rewards points

The ‘Life Juggler’

The life juggler is another type of user that is simply too busy to manage all their finances manually, and who uses Sniip simply because “it gives them order in their life”.

“They've got a busy home life, they're juggling family, they're juggling kids, they're juggling their own work, they're juggling all of the issues associated with managing that work-life balance,” Mr Vasta said.

“But yet when you receive an email bill with a static PDF attachment that doesn't actually connect you to a payment, it's something you put to one side because it requires time, and time is something that life juggler has very little of.  

“So Sniip is designed to minimise the amount of time required to pay and to manage a bill. Once the bill comes in with Sniip you can schedule it to be paid on the due date and never have to worry about it again.”

Some of the other features Sniip has, like record-keeping and reminders, can also help bill jugglers get by more easily.

The ‘Figure Out-er’

The figure out-er is the final key user, and they’re more of the new breed of bill payer: someone who expects paying to be easy and flexible.

“To them, the whole ability for people to actually pay is generally mobile intuitive, so they say: why is it that we're asked to be doing so much manual entry of digits in order to affect banking payments?” Mr Vasta said.

“They need to know it's secure but they need to make it quick, and Sniip makes bill payments quick.”

For this new generation of payer, credit cards are much less popular, while payment methods like buy now, pay later (BNPL) and newer digital banks are on the rise.

With Sniip, neobanks like 86 400 and Up Bank can all be loaded into the Sniip wallet, as can BNPL platforms like Afterpay and Zip.

“We're effectively giving people the opportunity to merge their buy now pay later retail habits into their non-discretionary bill payment habits.”

Related: Why is BNPL so popular with younger generations?

Outside of these three groups, Mr Vasta said Sniip had seen unexpected success with elderly Australians and even some customers with disabilities. March 2021 data from Sniip shows 13% of its customers were over 65.

“That tells me that we are easy to use, and I believe that generation is actually more comfortable with a smartphone than they are with a PC,” he said.

“This whole user friendly, intuitive smartphone era has allowed them to actually start using technology in a very easy to use, understandable manner.

“We've even got some people who suffer from dyslexia that actually like using our app because they don't have to worry about getting the numbers in the wrong order, whereas they’d have to manually enter them otherwise.”

Are there any negatives to using Sniip?

Perhaps predictably, Mr Vasta said he “doesn’t see any downside to using Sniip”.

“It's an alternative payment option: it's mobile, it's cheaper than the others, it's easy for us to implement and it shows that we're being innovative and we're responding to the shift from a desktop environment to a mobile environment.”

While it’s not surprising the founder would say such a thing, it’s hard to argue with his assessment.

Although still small, Sniip can already be used by pretty much anyone from any bank or credit network, is free to use (and in the case of American Express can actually be cheaper to use), and aims to make paying bills easier. For some users, it could actually let them pay their bills where they couldn’t before.

To nitpick, one potential issue that could arise from using Sniip is potentially spending too much with a credit card for the sake of points, particularly if it's a high-interest card. Another is you could end up relying on it too much, so if anything were to ever go wrong, having to pay a manual bill again could prove difficult.

But those are stretching it. Sniip seems to go out of its way to responsibly consolidate people’s bills and make payments easier for them in a secure way.

Savings.com.au’s two cents

Savings.com.au regularly highlights apps that help people with their money, and Sniip so far appears to be one of the best of them. In an increasingly digital world, staying on top of bills and money can be difficult and frustrating, so an app that manages these for you sounds like a great idea.

It’s no secret that Australians struggle with bills, spending 40% of their monthly income on them on average. Around two-thirds of Australians experience ‘bill shock’ at some point, while more and more are choosing to delay their bills out of necessity. An app like Sniip could help mitigate these issues.

Ultimately you’ll have to download the app and give it a try for yourself, but Sniip really does seem like it has something for everyone.


Image via Sniip

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author-avatar
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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