If you don’t have a genuine mobile app for your tenants, you’re falling behind in the fourth industrial revolution, when digital domains are blended with offline reality. A web portal will no longer cut it in 2022 – the world has moved on in the past two years, thanks to the pandemic accelerating innovation and digitalisation. In the UK, mobile penetration is reported to be at 98 per cent, significantly higher than computers, laptops and tablets combined.
Another important figure is that 85 per cent of online mobile phone usage is via apps, not browsers. Optus Homes found that consumers don’t want a web portal; instead, tenants want a powerful and intuitive app designed around their needs, not what makes a housing provider’s life easier. A tenant app such as the one Optus Homes unveiled at the Housing Technology 2022 conference is system-agnostic and will integrate seamlessly into housing providers’ existing HMS and CRM systems to deliver a powerful solution for tenants that improves efficiency and lowers costs for the housing provider.
App or portal?
Gerry Kelly, CEO, Optus Homes, said, “We strive to be client centric and we add features to the app only at the request of housing providers. For many tenants, their mobile phone is the only internet-connected device they have, meaning they need easy access to services simply and conveniently. Mobile is today’s super tool and consumers expect and demand instant access via powerful and intuitive solutions that they recognise and trust, and that means a genuine native mobile app.
“On the other hand, a tenant portal is a website, and while it can be made to be responsive so that it plays on a mobile, it is still only a website. A tenant portal’s design is always a compromise because it needs to be suitable for laptops, tablets and mobiles, so it’s never really optimised for any single device. In contrast, a genuine mobile app can deliver a wider range of personalised solutions than a web portal and is also a simple, convenient and secure way for tenants to take control of paying their rent.”
In our sector, the tide has turned regarding how banking and payments are carried out, with the focus nowadays on helping tenants to manage their finances better if they find themselves in difficulties and less able to meet their rental payments.
Kelly said, “Before developing our tenant app, we gathered the opinions of both tenants and housing providers and then built an app with those needs at the centre. An integral part of that was a requirement for simple, streamlined and secure rent payments. We found that working with PayPoint would let us integrate enhanced payment solutions within our app, offering tenants instant access to PayPoint’s MultiPay solution. With self-serve options, MultiPay offers the ultimate convenience and peace of mind for tenants, as well as increased efficiency, reduced costs and minimal integration requirements for housing providers.”
Through MultiPay, the app’s native payment solution, Optus Homes lets tenants pay their rent and manage arrears payments directly in the app, on the phone, or over the counter in one of the 28,000 local retailers in the UK-wide PayPoint network.
Collaborating for simplicity
Optus Homes and PayPoint are now working closely together to bring enhanced payment solutions to the social housing sector.
Danny Vant, client services director, PayPoint, said, “Our technical partnership with Optus Homes has allowed us to build a bespoke payment solution to meet the needs of both tenants and housing providers. Optus Homes has a branded digital payment solution that can provide real-time, end-to-end visibility of digital and cash payments. As well as making the tenant journey simpler, MultiPay offers streamlined reconciliation for the housing provider, all without any upfront capital costs.”
Removing complexity for housing providers
PayPoint is well-known for giving people access to quick and convenient bill payments, mobile top-ups and money transfers. Through its network of 28,000 retailers across the UK, PayPoint serves millions of customers every week.
Through pioneering retail technologies and omnichannel payment solutions, PayPoint has created a one-stop shop of customer payment options which help housing providers reduce the cost of rent collection, increase arrears payments and add value to the overall customer experience. Working with Optus Homes, PayPoint is increasing financial inclusion and convenience for tenants and removing complexity for housing providers.
Convenience for tenants
Working with Optus Homes, PayPoint has developed a payment solution that integrates direct within the app for ultimate ease and accessibility. Tenants can make payments instantly through the app, over the phone or in a local shop.
Alongside managing their rental account, the Optus Homes app allows tenants to report repairs and book appointments. Additional features are added every quarter, driven by housing providers’ requests and suggestions.
Gerry Kelly is the CEO of Optus Homes and Danny Vant is the client services director at PayPoint.