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An interview with BillGO's Mary Anne Keegan

BillGO Insights: 1:1 with Mary Anne Keegan

Mary Anne Keegan is BillGO’s Chief Marketing Officer and - having served in executive roles at BillGuard, Early Warning, First Data and others - is a seasoned leader in the financial services industry. Most recently, she oversaw a complete and comprehensive rebrand of BillGO, from the logo to company messaging to its positioning, in order to represent BillGO’s evolving presence in the financial services industry. 

We sat down with her to discuss BillGO’s recent rebrand, why the customer experience is key to success in digital banking and what drives her passion for fintech marketing.

BillGO’s new tagline is The New Way to Bill Pay. Does the industry need a new way?  

There’s a phrase we use a lot at BillGO – status quo or BillGO?

When it comes to paying bills, many financial institutions (FIs) have been relying on the status quo for a long time. But things are changing rapidly. People today have been programmed to expect a high level of speed, choice and intelligence at the tap of a button - whether they purchase things online or pay their bills. This transition was already in place, but COVID accelerated demand for digitization and emphasized the need for FIs to improve digital capabilities, like online bill payments, for customers.

And with today's AI and machine learning technology, there's an enhanced level of intelligence available to further personalize the experience overall.

Many FIs and fintechs see this and they recognize the need to move away from legacy systems and reinvent their digital platforms to incorporate modern bill pay capabilities to create a more holistic and convenient banking experience for their customers.

How are today’s digital expectations influencing bill pay? 

People have an expectation that if they pay a bill, they will receive a confirmation that their bill is paid. Delays in that process due to outdated payment technology are unacceptable to modern consumers. They don’t want to find out there’s a late fee because the biller didn't get a payment on time. 

In other words, real time payments are at the forefront of consumer expectations and there’s a tremendous opportunity now to deliver on that. 

But consumers also want choice. They want to be able to pay how they want – and when they want. They want to be able to set payments on a schedule that works for their financial life, not the biller’s. Having that speed and choice combined into one customer experience is something that was not available until now.

So modern bill pay benefits both consumers and banks? 

FIs remain a trusted source when it comes to helping consumers and businesses move and manage their money. And managing and paying bills is part of that equation. 

Financial institutions that offer modern bill pay can help customers better meet financial obligations, save money and improve their financial wellness. 

This in turn builds consumer loyalty and cultivates a frame of mind that nurtures long-term customer relationships. The more entrenched I am as a customer with my financial services provider, the more opportunities the institution has to make recommendations to improve financial wellness and drive retention.

So, better bill pay services mean better insights into your customers? 

Modern bill pay platforms, like BillGO, provide financial institutions with data insights that enable them to deliver engaging experiences to their customers which can have a positive effect on their financial health. Understanding a person’s bill pay habits presents an opportunity to really go deeper into supporting their financial goals.

Let me give you an example: Managing money to make ends meet is one of the biggest challenges consumers face in their financial lives. Research found that suggesting consumers do something as simple as changing bill due dates to align with income flow could help some consumers better manage their cash flow. 

What are BillGO customers telling you are the reasons they've upgraded their bill pay solution? 

Fintechs often talk about the future and their product roadmaps. BillGO’s customers chose us because we have a live, working platform. 

Our customers like having a better bill pay solution now. We're not talking about functionality that we're going to be building. We are delivering enhanced bill pay to large FIs, big techs and fintechs right now.  

We have spent an enormous amount of time on the user experience and understanding what is really important when it comes to managing and paying bills. We’ve developed extensive knowledge into how to create the right user flow and connections, and what has to go into that user experience and why. We have an entire team dedicated just to working with our customers on that and making sure we build the best user experience possible. 

We also have recruited talent from across the industry to be part of the BillGO team. We have subject matter experts who have been in the payment space for decades. In many cases, they’ve built bill pay systems and platforms. Our team is hands-down the strongest in the industry when it comes to bill pay. 

You've worked for several fintechs and payments businesses throughout your career. What is it about BillGO that attracted you? 

With BillGO, there is an opportunity to really change something that hasn't seen movement in almost two decades. And when you think about the fundamentals of our financial system, paying bills will never go away. It's here to stay.

I like being involved with organizations that have the potential to change people's lives and BillGO is on one of those journeys. For me, personally, having the chance to make a difference in the payments industry and work with the incredible talent at BillGO is a big win.

How does the refreshed BillGO brand align with your vision for financial services marketing? 

When I look at brands such as Apple or Nike, I see beauty. There's such an incredible amount of teamwork and talent behind that. These teams pay attention to every little detail. I tell my team time and time again: the devil's in the details. And to me, it's the details that create amazing brands.

As much as words matter, the visual identity matters just as much. When you look at successful consumer brands their visual identity is phenomenal. A picture is worth a thousand words. You see that in a lot of B2C companies, but you don't see that as much with B2B brands and you see it even less in financial services. So, the extent to which BillGO can bring some of that to financial services is very rewarding for me.

There's a lot of talk these days about marketing and personalization. Yeah, they're important, but those are table stakes. 

What's a challenge is to step outside of the box and really start thinking about your customer in a different light. And it's not just a marketing persona. It’s how you emotionally connect with the person at a specific stage in their journey. Different people under the same persona can behave completely differently — especially when confronted with a product or service — understanding these nuances is important.

The one thing that great brands have done on the B2C side is they have created emotional connections with their end users. I would like to see more of that in financial services marketing.

What is the emotional connection when it comes to FIs? 

Traditionally, banking hasn’t had a very strong emotional tie to consumers, but it should. Consumers want to have safety and security when it comes to their money. They want to know that there's a trusted source there and financial institutions are well positioned to offer that.

The FIs we are working with understand that. They recognize offering a better bill pay experience ultimately helps their consumers and has a positive effect on their financial health, which in turn strengthens the emotional connection they have with their customer. 

Want to Know More?

Read Keegan’s latest article in PaymentsJournal, which offers a round up of new findings regarding consumer preferences and priorities when it  comes to paying bills.