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Small businesses account for disproportionate rate of paper checks

Oct 26, 2012 Dave King

Electronic payments have become the norm for many consumers and organizations in recent years, as everything from online transactions to ACH cards and wire transfers continue to penetrate new industries. Though security has long been held as a threat for these types of transactions, many experts believe this potential problem is not enough to eclipse the benefits of electronic technology. For payroll and vending, many businesses have started to use ACH payments, as this expedites the direct deposit and regular merchant transaction processes, while streamlining the roles of accounts payable professionals. Businesses need to remain mindful of the payments going out in an automated fashion to ensure security, while software can be an extra helping hand. Many small businesses not yet using ACH
The Electronic Payments Association (NACHA) recently announced the results of its latest research study, titled "Still Paying with paper: Small Businesses Continue to Write and Receive Checks." According to the organization, many small businesses have not yet started using ACH and other wire transfer technology. The study found 24 percent of all paper checks used in the last year were for business-to-business payments, while 12 percent originated from smaller firms used for payroll. Additionally, 10 percent were written from consumers to small businesses, adding up to roughly 46 percent of all checks being used for small business purposes. This, the firm explained, accounts for 2.7 billion paper checks written each year for small businesses, though many are halting their use of the traditional payment method in favor of electronic transaction capabilities. Finally, more than 66 percent of small businesses in the United States do not yet offer employees direct deposit through ACH transfers. "There is a significant opportunity to reduce small business check use by encouraging adoption of direct deposit via ACH," Janet Estep, NACHA president and CEO. "Many small businesses are unaware of the benefits of direct deposit, including time and cost savings, efficiency and convenience. By increasing awareness of these advantages, small business might be more inclined to adopt direct deposit, and we can begin to see a reduction in the number of small business payroll checks written each year." Cashing in on consumer preference
Enabling electronic payments of all kinds can also help businesses capitalize on the rapidly trending consumer preference for new technological transaction capabilities. Mobile, online and automated payments have become among the most preferred methods of payment for today's consumers.