Pulp Magic

OCTOBER 11, 2017

People Still Like Their Bills on Paper

Do you still get your bills in the mail?  If so, you’re not alone.

Even though nearly everyone uses email these days, about 85% of bills and statements are still delivered on paper by mail. And according to a survey from CreditCards.com, 93 million credit card holders receive their statements on paper instead of online.  What’s more, 43 million of them consciously choose paper.

Why the persistent preference for paper?

One reason is that emailed bills are not as convenient as they might seem.  Typically you have to click on a link that takes you to a login page where you then have to enter a unique user name and password.  Any slip-up and you have to start over.  Several slip-ups and you’ll be blocked from your own account.  Now multiply that by the number of bills and accounts you may have – each with its own password – and the charm of electronic bill paying begins to wear thin pretty quickly.

Paper is so much easier to read, to store securely, and to retrieve when needed.  It’s a tangible record of financial transactions that otherwise seem increasingly abstract. The CrediCards.com study even found that half of those who prefer paper statements to electronic ones would be willing to pay extra for a paper record. shutterstock_156792500_low

Another survey, this one commissioned by Two Sides last year, asked 7,000 people in ten countries what they thought of digital communications versus print on paper.  That survey found that most people want the option of continuing to receive printed statements and other communications because it provides a permanent record.

These global paper enthusiasts also noted that reading from paper is more enjoyable than reading off a monitor and 71% like the tactile experience of paper.  A large majority of participants in the survey questioned the “Go Green” claims of governments or corporations that encourage people to switch from paper to electronic communications.  Eighty percent believe these companies are more interested in saving money than in saving the planet.

The more sustainable choice is paper, and people around the world recognize that.

Ninety percent believe that print and paper is sustainable as long as it is produced and recycled responsibly.  But most people don’t understand just how responsible we already are.  Almost three-quarters of those surveyed thought that less than half of waste paper is recycled when the actual figure is 65%.  The same number of people believes our forests are shrinking when in fact U.S. and European forests have been growing in volume over the past fifty years.

What does all that survey data tell us?

For one thing, it says that people continue to love paper for a variety of reasons from security to touch.  But most importantly, people would love paper even more if they only knew how sustainable it actually is.